Rumors were rife earlier this week about Apple Pay's possible entry into Saudi Arabia. The kingdom's Al-Rajhi bank put up local advertisements that began speculations about the move.
Apple lived up to the hype and launched its wallet in Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic on February 18. Apple Pay in the country began to display provisioned credit as well as debit and prepaid cards from Saudi banks.
"Saudi Arabia is home to a young, tech-savvy population who are keen to adopt innovative solutions that provide seamless payment experiences," said J.K. Khalil, General Manager, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, Mastercard.
How does it work?
For those still new to the application, Apple Pay is a wallet app that can be used to make secure purchases in brick-and-mortar stores, online, and within various apps using an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch.
Apple claims that it is simpler – and safer – than using a physical card. The Touch ID feature based on Apple customers' fingerprint or the Face ID feature can be used to authenticate payment.
Although credit and debit cards are in the Wallet app, the card numbers are neither stored on Apple servers nor shared with merchants. Additionally, when you pay with a bank card, the Apple Pay application doesn't retain transaction information that can be tied back to you.
"The speed and simplicity of Apple Pay, coupled with the peace of mind Mastercard’s multi-tiered approach to safety and security brings to every purchase, will further accelerate the uptake of cashless transactions in the region and contribute to our global vision of a world beyond cash," J.K. Khalil said.
What does it include?
In addition to accepting Visa and Mastercard based cards, Apple has assured support for the Saudi Payments Network (mada), Alinma Bank, Al-Rajhi Bank, Bank Aljazira, the National Commercial Bank, and Riyad Bank.
"We are pleased to collaborate with Mastercard and to bring the benefits of Apple Pay to Saudi Arabia. The rollout of this fast and convenient solution is poised to transform how consumers in the Kingdom pay for goods and services, and is an important step in the government’s ongoing digitization drive in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 and the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP),” said Ziyad Al-Yousef, Managing Director, mada.
On its official website, Apple has also announced support for 46 stores.
Apple Pay also features 28 retailers who accept wallet services for in-app payments in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is only the second country in the MENA region after the UAE to welcome the wallet.
In October 2018, the company said that the mobile payment and digital wallet service would be “coming soon” to Saudi Arabia. In the same month, mada, Saudi’s National Payments system, confirmed in a Twitter post that it would support Apple Pay to enable “customers to make easy and secure payments when the service launches in the KSA soon.”