Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Saudi Banks Support Limiting Virus Impact on Private Sector

Saudi Banks Support Limiting Virus Impact on Private Sector

Monday, 30 March, 2020 - 11:30
Riyadh- Fatehelrahman Yousif

Saudi banks said they enjoy working mechanisms that allow them to continue supporting the business environment and mitigate the effects of coronavirus outbreak on the private sector.

In response to the current circumstances, they have reduced the number of operating bank branches to the minimum and asking them to provide only the necessary services that are not available on e-channels.

Talat Hafiz, secretary-general of the Media and Banking Awareness Committee, told Asharq al-Awsat that the minimum number of branches operating has been determined.

Also serving as spokesman for the Saudi Banks, Hafiz affirmed that the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has given instructions regarding the working hours and services allowed to be provided by the operating branches in the Kingdom.

SAMA has raised the allowed top-up of the monthly ceiling limit for e-wallets up to SAR20,000 ($5,300) to boost digital payment transactions, Hafiz said.

This decision contributes to maintaining the safety of all e-payment users and facilitating their financial transactions through e-wallet applications provided by the Payment Services Providers (PSPs) in the Kingdom.

Banks have provided supporting solutions for the national economy by allowing more cash flows for economic activities.

Hafiz pointed to raising the permissible limit of payments through bank cards via Near-field communication (NFC) technology for POS devices without the need to enter the secret number from 100 riyals to 300 riyals ($80) per transaction, while maintaining the required cumulative limit, in order to encourage e-transactions.

SAMA has earlier announced preparing a SAR50 billion ($13.32 billion) package to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cope with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

In light of the measures taken to support the state’s efforts to combat the coronavirus and alleviate its expected financial and economic effects on the private sector, Hafiz said banks have made sure SMEs are financed.

He said the program includes three basic elements aimed at alleviating the burden of fluctuating cash flows, supporting working capital and enabling it to grow during the coming period and contributing to supporting economic growth and maintaining employment in the private sector.

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