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Saudi introduces new e-payment system to cut cost, cash smuggling

Saudi introduces new e-payment system to cut cost, cash smuggling

RAYADH: The major modifications will be made to the Saudi Payment Network System (SPAN) in 2015 to increase efficiency and reduce costs for banks, merchants and consumers, and counter the smuggling of cash. It would eventually also allow for withdrawals at point-of-sale (POS) terminals, and getting money from ATMs without cards.

The new system, to be renamed Mada, will connect ATMs and POS terminals throughout the country to a central payment switch that in turn re-routes the financial transactions between banks of merchants and customers.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency is now testing the system. Sources indicate that it would create changes in consumer culture, including serving as an incentive to save by reducing the usage of cash, and encouraging greater spending via bank cards.

The new system will include additional services for customers, which will be implemented gradually over the coming years. These include the possibility of withdrawing from ATMs without a card, obtaining prepaid cards loaded with amounts as per clients’ request, facilitating electronic payments for purchasing tickets, and cash-back options from tellers and shops to reduce pressure on ATMs.

The system will also permit the transfer of funds to customers outside the Kingdom who carry the same type of cards, without the deduction of transfer fees. It will also allow transfers to accounts at other banks, and better verification of the income of businesses to impose fees or taxes more systematically.