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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Saudi monetary authority eases financial transaction restrictions to mitigate impact of COVID-19
RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has issued a series of measures and guidelines for banks and financial institutions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiatives are designed to ease financial transactions and improve payment solutions through electronic services. Under the SAMA directives, purchase limits on Atheer enabled cards — supporting near-field communication (NFC) technology — will be increased from SR100 ($27) to SR300 per transaction without the need to enter a PIN code.
The Atheer service allows cardholders to make purchase payments in a safe, easy and fast manner by simply waving their card in front of a point of sale (PoS) terminal and the measure is aimed at avoiding customers having to make physical contact with payment machines which could be sources of infection.
In a statement the authority said that banks had been instructed to “enable customers to increase PoS purchase limits through reliable channels, and make all money transfers made in Saudi riyals between banks operating in the Kingdom via SARIE (the Saudi Arabian Riyal Interbank Express system) free of charge.”
Faisal Al-Mana, director of financial awareness at SAMA, told Arab News that banks had also been asked to limit the number of working branches where online services could not be provided.
He said the authority was continuously monitoring the situation and working with other government bodies over the crisis.
“Up to now, the necessary measures have been taken. We will keep an eye on any further developments,” he said.
Based on guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, SAMA officials have instructed banks to check the temperatures of customers entering their premises, provide sanitizers, and equip staff with necessary safety products.
The authority recently decided to suspend freezes on client bank accounts for 30 days in specific situations, such as the expiration of identification documents, failure to meet the requirements of knowing your customer, and changing the account status to inactive due to a lack of banking transactions.
The authority posted a series of tweets in Arabic, English, Tagalog and Urdu about the measures and new online services offered to bank users in the Kingdom.
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