Exclusive: Saudi Telecom Company expands into digital payments, to launch a mobile wallet named STC Pay

Saudi Telecom Company, the leading telecom operator in Saudi is expanding into digital payments by launching a mobile wallet named STC Pay for the local consumers. The company seems to have created a subsidiary called STC Pay (alias: Saudi Digital Payment Company) for the purpose.

STC has not made any official announcement yet but tweeted the link to STC Pay’s website yesterday, saying, ‘A mobile payment application for your daily needs.’

According to the information available on their website, the wallet will be available as a free app for Apple and Android devices very soon. When launched, it could be used to pay at STC Pay partner stores (both physical and e-commerce). For physical stores, users will be able to pay by scanning QR code at the cashier.

The app would also allow users to pay their utility bills and transfer money to other STC Pay users. The users will be able to see all their contacts who have an STC Pay account in one of the tabs of the app and choose anyone from them to transfer the money. They can also request money from any of these contacts.

The screenshot of the app (shared below) suggests that the users will be able to deposit money into their wallet using an IBAN (International Bank Account Number).

STC will most probably be using a banking partner behind the scenes to make this work. But they’ve not shared any details this on the website.

This comes after Viva (a Bahrain-based telecom company owned by STC) launched a similar app named Viva Cash earlier this year in Bahrain. Viva Cash also allows international remittance transfers to some countries including Pakistan, India & Philippines.

It would be interesting to see if STC Pay also launches with a similar feature. Saudi is one of the largest markets in the world in terms of remittance outflows and most of the current options for remittances have a lot of friction points so it could be a massive opportunity for the company.

STC Pay currently seems to have its team in two countries with most of their engineering staff working from Turkey. Their CEO, Saleh Mosaibah, according to his LinkedIn profile, has been with the parent company for more than four years and was serving as Vice President for Marketing Planning & Alliances before joining STC Pay.

As we haven’t seen the app so cannot really comment on the user experience it offers but it should still serve as a wake up call for all those banks in Saudi who in spite of making billions in profits offer a poor digital experience to their users.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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