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Saudi leads mobile banking in region, MENA trails behind globally

As Saudi banks digitally transform, the Kingdom ranks as the top digital banking market in the Middle East and North Africa, with more than three-quarters of banking customers using online or mobile apps, industry experts announced today.

Saudi customers go digital

In a recent survey of regional banking customers by research firm ArabNet, 76% of Saudi banking customers use digital platforms, and 60% use online and mobile apps, both ranking highest in the region. Top Saudi digital banking offerings are loyalty programs (53%), mobile discount coupons (51%), and virtual prepaid debit cards (50%), according to McKinsey.

“The Kingdom is one of the world’s most digitally-advanced countries, and banks are leading their transformation with real-time digital solutions to meet their customers’ banking needs,” said Khaled Alsaleh, Managing Director, SAP Saudi Arabia. “Saudi banks are driving new and innovative banking models in line with Saudi Vision 2030 goals for economic growth and diversification.”

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Globally, mobile is already the largest banking channel by transaction volume for the majority of banks. The growth of global mobile banking is in a tremendously rapid phase, with adoption rates at their highest in emerging markets, according to the “Mobile Banking 2015” report by KPMG.

Global mobile banking users totaled for 800 million in 2015, and are predicted to reach 1.8 billion by 2019.

According to the GSMA Mobile Economy 2016 Report, mobile money services are now available to 1.9 billion people globally. Mobile payments have particularly flourished in emerging markets, including Africa, South Asia, and South America.

However, this is not the case in the MENA region, where the penetration of mobile payment services has been very limited.

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ArabNet’s report shows that users from KSA, UAE, and Egypt show the highest rates of adoption at 60%, 52%, 46% respectively. On the other hand, respondents in Lebanon (31%) and Jordan (40%) are the least likely to use digital banking among the surveyed countries. It is interesting to note that 7% aren’t aware of whether their bank offers digital banking services, and these customers may be easily converted to online channels through effective communication campaigns.

Image: ArabNet

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