Best Online Banks in Saudi Arabia
Surprisingly, 95% of the people in Saudi Arabia used some kind of digital banking. This study didn’t look at “class 4” or “deprived” people, of which 11% of the country is made up.
Still, the best way to talk to banks is through digital channels. That must mean that there are a lot of online banks in the country, right? No, not really.
In fact, the opposite is true. Traditional banks still make up most of the market, so it’s hard to find a challenger bank.
There are 35 banks on the Saudi market as a whole:
11 traditional banks in the area
3 local digital banks
21 branches of other banks
The best online banks in Saudi Arabia.
There are also 19 Saudi fintech companies that are licensed to offer payment services, microfinance for consumers, and electronic insurance brokerage.
People are still using traditional online banking and mobile banking to get their money needs met. With so many wealthy people willing and ready to use digital banking, just three digital banks that cover 35 million people won’t make much of a difference in the country.
People are now ready to open digital-only bank accounts at a rate of 88 percent, and 79 percent of Saudis are willing to share their data in exchange for better banking services.
Customers have left their banks for different reasons, which are also listed in the same research. Here are some of the biggest:
The bank’s customer service was bad.
The bank didn’t have many products.
The new bank had a better loan offer.
The bank raised their fees.
The new bank has a better credit card.
The new bank has better digital channels than the old one.
The new bank has better deposit rates.
Another bank has more or better branches.
The KSA banking market could definitely use more competition, especially from fintech companies that are willing to offer a better, more personalized customer experience, more financial products and new asset classes, better loans, and no or low fees for day-to-day banking.
Even though digital banks aren’t known for their great customer service (in fact, they’re known for the opposite), they are known for their new financial products, better user interfaces, and lack of fees.
They also have good credit cards with cash-back features and, in many cases, much better interest rates on savings than the incumbents.
The largest banks in the Kingdom, such as Saudi Arabia National Bank, Al Rajhi Bank, and Samba, will give the new banks a lot of competition.
Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country in the area to try out digital banking, but it is one of the most advanced. UAE and Qatar were the subject of a recent article.
Let’s take a look at the best online banks in Saudi Arabia.
Best online Banks in Saudi Arabia
D360 is a new digital bank that got its license in February 2022. It is only the third digital bank in the whole country to get a license.
The bank hasn’t made it to the market yet. We do know, though, that it will be run by the Derayah Financial Company and that the Public Investment Fund will put up 1.65 billion riyals ($440 million) to pay for it.
We don’t know much else about this neobank. Still, the Kingdom is putting a lot of money into the metaverse, blockchain, and a lot of other technologies to diversify the economy and make it less reliant on oil.
The Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia is spending a lot of money on things like this digital bank and a new platform for competitive gaming in Europe. To give you an idea of how big these investments are.
Liv. is the first digital banking app in the GCC that is designed to fit both your lifestyle and your finances. Emirates NBD, one of the best banks in UAE, started it.
You only need a KSA mobile phone number, valid Absher credentials, and a smartphone to open a bank account with Liv.
Like most other digital banks, Liv. offers a simple account with no fees, no physical branches, easy money transfers, and good savings rates that are geared toward younger people.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Activate your card, lock & unlock it, order a new one, and more – directly in the app
- 2% interest rate and automated savings rules
- Automatic expense tracker to help you check where all your money goes for better money management
- Instant money transfers using a mobile number
- Pay friends and split bills using social media
- Pay all your bills with one tap with SADAD
- Withdraw cash from any ATM in KSA for free
- Discounts on concerts, events, promotions, and other exclusive benefits
- Transfer and receive funds from any bank in KSA
- Get Statements directly in the app
- Collect Livions to win unique prizes
Liv. can compete with other online banks for a place of the best online banks in Saudi Arabia.
Gulf International Bank (GIB), which is owned by the governments of the six GCC countries, has a branch for retail banking called Meem. But the Public Investment Fund, which owns 97.2% of the bank, is the main shareholder.
Meem is also the first digital bank in the world to follow the rules of Shariah. It came out in 2014 in the KSA and in 2018 in Bahrain.
Since then, meem has taken a mobile-first approach, which makes it easy to bank with as few manual steps or branch visits as possible.
The business is offering:
- Credit card for the OnePack account
- Money for a home
- Personal finance
- Murabaha deposits
The OnePack account has a checking account, a savings account, and an account for more than one currency, all on one card and app.
When it comes to cards, you can get a Shariah-compliant meem credit card that doesn’t have any hidden fees and has a number of features and benefits, such as:
- A flexible installment program
- A rewards program
- Low FX exchange rates
- Purchase protection
- Access to certain airports all over the world.
- If you need a mortgage, you’ll be glad to know that meem has a 100% digital application process that includes E-title deed transfer and is based on the principles of Murabaha.
You can also get financing for up to 5 million SAR over a period of up to 35 years. The APR starts at 4.68 percent, and the admin fees are either 1 percent or 5,000 SAR.
Personal finance is 100% digital and follows the rules of Shariah. Rates are competitive, and you can borrow up to 1.5 million SAR for up to 60 months.
Meem also has the first Shariah-compliant real-time term deposit and commodities trading in the world.
Saudi Digital Bank
Abdul Rahman Saad Al-Rashed and Sons Company made the Saudi Digital Bank, or SDB. This is a well-known holding company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It has subsidiaries that work in real estate, investment management, construction, and other fields.
The new digital bank has $400 million in capital, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. It looks like they’ve brought in some people with a lot of experience.
We don’t know yet when SDB will come out on the market.
STC Bank (STC Pay)
One of the first two digital banks to get a license from SAMA was STC Bank (KSA Central Bank). The bank started out as an e-wallet called STC Pay, which was launched in 2018 by the Saudi Telecom Company (STC).
Since then, the e-wallet has turned into a financial app. Together with Western Union, the app lets you send money to other countries.
WU bought a 15% stake in STC Pay and will be a partner in the newly formed digital bank because of this.
With this deal, STC Pay became the first “Saudi unicorn” and the first “fintech unicorn” in the Middle East.
Since STC Bank is still not on the market, let’s see what STC Pay has to offer, since the two products could end up being very similar.
There are credit cards and debit cards, as well as personal and business accounts. There are, of course, different ways to put or take money out of the account.
There is also a marketplace where you can buy top-up cards and directly buy millions of movies, TV shows, books, video games, music, etc.
STC Pay also has analytics and budgeting tools that help you keep track of your spending and encourage you to spend more wisely and save more.
Benefits of the best online Banks in Saudi Arabia
Digital/online banking is better than traditional banking in many ways. It has some bad points as well. But we need to keep digital banking, which is usually done by fintech companies, separate from the online and mobile banking that traditional banks offer to their customers.
Fintech digital banks have no or low fees, especially for day-to-day banking. This is different from traditional banks, which charge you for things like monthly fees, transfer fees, and other important banking products.
Traditional banks have costs like office and branch space, more employees, and old systems that are expensive to keep up.
Digital banks don’t have any of that, so they don’t have to charge for their accounts and can give much better interest rates on savings, which brings in more customers.
See, interchange fees are the main way that digital banks make money. They don’t charge their customers for these fees; instead, they charge retailers and merchants. So, you, the user, don’t have to pay for transactions, and the bank still gets to make money from these small transaction fees that add up quickly.
Another good thing for customers is that money transfers are usually free and instant between users, but they are also often free and instant between users of different banks. Most of the time, the foreign currency exchange rate for international transfers is fair and not meant to rip you off.
There are many benefits of having access to best online banks .
Conclusion – best online banks in Saudi Arabia
The market in KSA is huge, and people are eager to start using online banking. The banking market in the country doesn’t show that the country is ready. The Kingdom is falling behind other developed countries and even some GCC markets.
It looks like the government has woken up and is trying to speed up some fintech companies so that digital banking in the country can develop quickly.
But it could be another 3–5 years before there is enough competition and people get the service they deserve and that is expected in the modern world.
The days of old-fashioned banks with bad customer service, bad banking apps, and few financial products are over.
The world is always changing, and neither is the fintech industry.
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