FINTECH SAUDI

Saudi Arabia 2020 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Nejoud Al Mulaik, Director of Fintech Saudi on finance sector.

Nejoud Al Mulaik
BIOGRAPHY
Nejoud Al Mulaik was appointed Director of Fintech Saudi in October 2018. Previously, she had served as Director for International Strategic Partnerships at Monshaat, the Saudi SME authority. She has a decade of experience in corporate and investment banking, most recently as corporate associate at JPMorgan Chase & Co. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business systems from Arab Open University.

What is your strategy to create an innovative fintech hub and align all the stakeholders?

Technology has disrupted every sector, including the financial services industry. The Saudi fintech initiative is diversifying the sources through which we manage financial transactions, and devising a strategy to move toward a cashless society. The ecosystem in Saudi Arabia is rather unconnected, with many players navigating on their own. The Fintech Saudi program was launched in April 2018 to enhance, innovate, and connect the system and better understand the market and prevailing opportunities. We need to build infrastructure and see how to connect the dots between start-ups, investors, and traditional financial players. This will help diversify the economy and develop a better ecosystem for entrepreneurs.

What other initiatives are shaping the fintech industry?

When we consider the retail and telecommunication industries, both the fundamental dynamics and consumer behavior are changing. This demands a diversity of new services on various platforms. We understand that STC Pay, Halalah, and other fintechs will help customers manage their transactions and foster diversification. Initiatives such as the central bank's sandbox initiative and the fintech initiative are involved in navigating the ecosystem to better create a pipeline in the market. Then there is the Capital Market Authority's Fintech Lab initiative, which is geared at regulating its services into arrangement, custody and stocks, bonds, and crowd funding. We are considering supportive and responsible fintechs and endorsing safe environments with a view to better understand what regulators need to introduce. The sandbox and Fintech Lab are the “test bed" where fintechs can enter for 12 to 18 months before graduating. We are also using these testing environments to regulate services in the market for new fintechs to navigate the market without having to go through the full testing cycle for the same service.