During the Financial sector conference 2023 in Riyadh KSA, Mohsen Al Zahrani, Virtual assets and CBDC Program Director at Saudi Arabia’s Central Bank, told Anna Tutova, CEO of Coinstelegram media platform when asked about the regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country, that there is a current forum looking into that, yet no policy decision has been made yet on different virtual asset types.
He noted in his reply during a panel discussion on CBDC, public money in the digital age, “We are working on a policy decision with the Saudi Central Bank and other relevant governmental agencies.”
KSA appointed AlZahrani in September 2022 to lead the virtual assets and digital currency program at the Central Bank. In January 2023, The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) confirmed that the Central Bank is continuing to experiment on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC). SAMA is currently working on a project that focuses on domestic or national wholesale CBDC use case in collaboration with local banks and FinTech’s. Experts explained to LaraontheBlock that this is a CBDC for local wholesale bank settlements.
During the 2023 World Economic Forum’s session on Financial Institutions innovating under pressure, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Finance Mohammed Al Jadaan states that while CBDCs have privacy issues they are fantastic tool in developing countries.
Prior to this KSA had engaged in a pilot with UAE on CBDC Aber project for cross border wholes sale CBDC transactions utilizing Hyper Ledger Fabric at the time.
Kucoin cryptocurrency exchange revealed in a report published in July 2022 “ Crypto Verse Report on adoption of digital currencies in Saudi Arabia” that 3 million Saudi Arabians are crypto investors who currently own cryptocurrencies or have traded in past six months. This means 3 million out of an adult population of 21 million or 14 percent currently own cryptocurrencies.
The survey also found that another 17 percent of adult population surveyed, was crypto curious and are likely to invest in crypto in the next six months. This would be imply that by the end of 2022, 31 percent of Saudi adult population or 6.6 million will be trading or owners of cryptocurrencies.