Saudi Arabia’s banking regulator has appointed Mohsen AlZahrani to lead their virtual assets and central bank digital currency program to sign the Gulf state’s potential crypto ambitions.
People familiar with the matter told that while the kingdom has taken cautious steps to approach virtual assets, the emergence of a global crypto hub in the UAE has led to some urgency in Riyadh to draft more formal rules for the asset class,
AlZahrani, a former managing director at Accenture, reported to Ziad Al Yousef, the Central Bank’s deputy governor for development and technology, as per reports. The talks involved the digital economy, cryptocurrency, digital banks, and smart cities.
AlZahrani is a part of a team in Riyadh that’s engaging with some of the world’s biggest crypto firms on future regulations.” UAE has been pushing firms to increase their presence in the capital city as part of Mohammed bin Salman’s plans to turn Riyadh into a global hub.
This posed a direct challenge to the Gulf’s business hub, Dubai. The Saudi government has been collaborating with the UAE on a potential joint digital currency for several years.
In 2018, Riyadh banned banks from processing cryptocurrency transactions, though workarounds exist to trade. However, in recent months, local financial firms reiterated the restrictions in correspondence with customers. Binance Holdings have staffed its Saudi teams, identifying the kingdom as a largely untapped market if the current restrictions loosen.