Saudi Arabia Central Bank Hires Crypto & CBDC Expert

5 September 2022, 18:08 GMT+0000
Updated by Ryan James
5 September 2022, 18:08 GMT+0000
In Brief
  • Saudi Arabia's interest in cryptocurrency might be rising.
  • The Saudi Central Bank hired a former Accenture executive to lead crypto and CBDC efforts.
  • The Kingdom previously took a more cautious approach to digital assets.
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Saudi Arabia is warming up to the potential of cryptocurrency following the hiring of former Accenture MD to focus on crypto adoption.

The Saudi Central Bank has hired former Managing Director at Accenture, Mohsen AlZahrani, to lead the bank’s crypto and CBDC efforts, Bloomberg reported. AlZahrani has been with the bank since July, according to his LinkedIn profile.

AlZahrani has previously worked for the central bank from March 2015 to October 2018, where he managed the innovation center with initiatives including cryptocurrency and CBDC.

According to Bloomberg’s several sources, Riyadh is taking a new interest in digital assets and communicating with the biggest companies in the space, looking at UAE’s position toward crypto.

One of the countries’ joint digital asset efforts is a CBDC initiative called Aber.

Announced in 2019, Aber is a “joint digital currency and distributed ledger” project, a dual-issued central bank digital currency pilot. Two central banks – the Central Bank of United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) and Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) – and six commercial banks were involved in the development of the project.

According to a study released by the two banks after the pilot program was over, the project was deemed successful.

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“The project was successful in achieving its key objectives, which include using a new DLT-based solution for real-time cross-border interbank payments between commercial banks without the need to maintain and reconcile Nostro accounts with each other. This promises to address the inefficiency and costs that are inherent in existing cross-border payment mechanisms,” the study says.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a promising yet untapped location for crypto companies, as it is the largest economy in the Middle East. Some crypto giants like Binance have started to develop relationships with the region and are hiring local teams.

Meanwhile, a neighboring country, the United Arab Emirates, has emerged as a business and crypto hub recently. 

Meanwhile, a neighboring country, the United Arab Emirates, has emerged as a business and crypto hub recently. Multiple companies, including Binance, FTX, and OKX, have been granted licenses to operate in the county. And Binance has even moved their headquarters to Dubai.

As another sign that the Emirates is taking digital assets seriously, Dubai’s digital asset regulatory authority published regulatory guidelines outlining rules of marketing, advertising, and promotion of cryptocurrency in August.

“It is imperative for users to have accurate and full details to make an informed decision as to their VA exposure. These regulations will go a long way in ensuring that users have the needed information before making their decisions,” Kokila Alagh, founder at KARM Legal Consultants, commented on the guidelines.

For Be[In]Crypto’s latest Bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here.