Saudi Arabia’s banking regulator recently appointed Mohsen Al Zahrani to head its virtual assets and central bank digital currency initiative.
Al Zahrani, a former managing director at Accenture, reports to Ziad Al Yousef, the deputy governor for development and technology at the Central Bank. They are a member of a team in Riyadh that consults with some of the top cryptocurrency companies on potential restrictions.
This appointment indicates that the country has changed its mind about its earlier ban on cryptocurrency. Riyadh had prohibited banks from conducting cryptocurrency transactions in 2018. This sudden shift has given birth to speculations stating that the emergence of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the region’s crypto powerhouse has compelled Saudi Arabian officials to think about explicitly regulating cryptocurrencies.
The appointment takes place at a time when Saudi citizens are embracing cryptocurrencies, very much like their counterparts in the region. A recent study indicated that the highest demand for crypto-salary options comes from Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The study further pointed out that 39% of Saudi citizens preferred to receive salaries in non-pegged crypto, while 58% opted for stablecoins.
To facilitate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plans to transform Riyadh into a major international hub, KSA has been encouraging businesses to expand their presence in the capital city.
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