Saudi Arabia-listed banks reported a 14 percent rise in aggregate net profit before Zakat and tax to the tune of SR 4.02 billion in March 2021 as against SR 3.53 billion a year earlier, according to data from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).
The data covers 11 listed banks and some foreign banks operating in the Kingdom. Banks’ aggregate assets grew by over 11 percent year on year (YoY) to SR 3.035 trillion in March, combined deposits increased by 9 percent YoY to SR 1.980 trillion in the same month, whereas loans to the private sector saw an increase of 15 percent YoY to around SR 1.871 trillion by the end of March, financial news portal Argaam reported.
Talat Zaki Hafiz, financial analyst and banking expert, told Arab News: “ the obvious reason for the aggregate reported net profit by Saudi banks to show a rise of 14 percent is the positive return back of the banking sector to the normal operations after a long period of lockdown (partially and completely) of more than than 70 days, between March and May last year due to the COVID19 pandemic as part of precautionary measures taken by the Saudi government to prevent the spread of the virus.”
During the lockdown Saudi banks were able to serve its clients normally, despite the fact that in certain days of the lockdown the sector was operating with only 25 percent of its branches network capacity which exceeds in total 2000 branches Kingdom-wide, he added.
Saudi banks utilised technology and electronic payments to serve customers effectively as is evident from report by SAMA, which also indicated that the rate of e-payments for the retail sector – Individual Retail Payments by the end of July 2019, amounted more than 36 percent of all payments available, exceeding the targeted percentage of the financial sector development program (FSDP), one of the key programs of Saudi Vision 2030, he underlined.
FSDP stipulates that the share of non-cash transactions should be increased by 28 percent by 2020, he added .—Arab News