Embracing DeFi: The Next Big Leap For Saudi Arabia’s Financial Sector

Adaverse Accelerator
4 min readNov 24, 2023

Introduction

Saudi Arabia, emerging as the fastest-growing G20 economy in 2022, is actively diversifying its economy beyond its traditional oil-based model. This strategic shift brings challenges, including ensuring that large-scale projects are economically productive. The country’s economy is projected to grow to $1.3 trillion by 2028, and Decentralized Finance (DeFi) presents itself as a key facilitator in this transition. DeFi’s potential to offer efficient and transparent financial solutions aligns with the Kingdom’s focus on digitalization and economic diversification. As Saudi Arabia embarks on this path, integrating DeFi could play a significant role in enhancing the effectiveness of its diversification strategies and contributing to its overall economic growth.

What is DeFi?

DeFi refers to a blockchain-based financial system that operates without centralized institutions such as banks, brokerages, or exchanges. It encompasses a wide range of financial applications, from lending and borrowing platforms to stablecoins and tokenized assets, all built on blockchain technology.

Why is DeFi Relevant in 2023?

DeFi is revolutionizing the financial world by offering a more accessible, transparent, and efficient alternative to traditional finance. It enables faster, more secure transactions and provides financial services to those who are underserved by conventional financial systems. In an increasingly digital world, DeFi’s ability to operate globally, free from traditional banking restrictions and inefficiencies, makes it a key player in the future of finance.

With this understanding of DeFi, we believe Saudi Arabia can position itself at the forefront of this digital economic growth by aligning with its Vision 2030 and embracing Web3 innovation.

5 Major Sectors that can benefit from DeFi in Saudi Arabia

1. Entertainment Industry: Saudi Arabia’s entertainment sector has seen a remarkable evolution, hosting major global events in film and music that draw in millions of visitors. With the market expected to reach approximately $273.7 million by 2027, DeFi stands to play a crucial role in this growth. It can facilitate innovative funding methods for creative projects, such as tokenization, which allows for direct financial interactions between artists and their audiences. Additionally, DeFi can introduce new revenue streams for content creators and investors, further enriching the kingdom’s entertainment landscape.

2. Sports and Esports: The gaming industry, particularly in Saudi Arabia, is on a rapid ascent. In a significant move, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund has allocated nearly $40 billion to establish the kingdom as a premier global destination for gaming and esports by 2030. This initiative aligns with the vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is known for his enthusiasm for gaming. DeFi can significantly contribute to achieving this vision by offering transparent and efficient ways to manage contracts and salaries within the sports and esports sectors. Moreover, DeFi can enable the tokenization of sports clubs, enhance fan engagement, and support crowdfunding efforts for sports infrastructure and events.

3. Real Estate and PropTech: The Saudi Arabian real estate market, expected to grow from $64 billion in 2023 to about $94 billion by 2028, is being propelled by developments like the $500 billion NEOM megacity. This ambitious project under Vision 2030 is set to revolutionize the property technology (PropTech) sector. DeFi’s role in this growth could be pivotal, offering innovative financing and enhancing investment processes for these advanced urban developments.

4. Financial Services and DeFi: Dominated by traditional institutions, Saudi Arabia’s financial sector, contributing approximately 18% to the GDP, faces challenges like high intermediary dependency and a need for innovation. DeFi presents a transformative solution, offering efficient, transparent, and accessible financial services, reducing reliance on conventional systems, and potentially leading to significant cost savings and new revenue opportunities in the market.

5. Retail and E-Commerce: With the Kingdom’s e-commerce market projected to exceed $20 billion in revenue, aligning with markets like the UAE, and anticipating a growth rate of 13.5% annually through 2027, the role of DeFi becomes increasingly pivotal. DeFi can empower these businesses with innovative financing options and enhance supply chain management. This shift towards DeFi could significantly boost investor participation and streamline operations in the retail and e-commerce sectors, supporting Saudi Arabia’s economic expansion goals.

Saudi Arabia’s Path to Integrating DeFi

The integration of DeFi (Decentralized Finance) in Saudi Arabia’s financial sector is a multi-faceted endeavor pivotal for the nation’s economic evolution:

  • Educational Outreach and Awareness: It is essential to focus on educational outreach and awareness. By enlightening the public and sectors about DeFi’s benefits and functionalities, we foster a well-informed community, ready to engage with and adopt these emerging technologies.
  • Progressive Regulatory Frameworks: Saudi Arabia’s pro-blockchain stance and focus on integrating Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies are essential in developing regulations that foster innovation while ensuring a stable and secure financial environment. Such frameworks are crucial for the growth and sustainability of DeFi.
  • Synergies Between Traditional Finance and DeFi: For a holistic financial ecosystem, fostering partnerships between established financial institutions and emerging DeFi startups is key. These synergies are instrumental in creating a balanced and future-ready financial era.

In this evolving landscape, Adaverse assumes a crucial role. Leveraging its expertise in nurturing Web3 and DeFi startups, Adaverse is uniquely positioned to simplify complex DeFi concepts for a wider audience, enhancing educational outreach. By facilitating access to capital, imparting technical and strategic guidance, and nurturing a culture of innovation, Adaverse is poised to significantly influence the future of finance and technology in the Kingdom.

This commitment by Adaverse is not just a stride towards enhancing Saudi Arabia’s financial sector but also contributes to the broader objectives of economic growth and sustainability, resonating with the nation’s Vision 2030 goals.

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Adaverse Accelerator

Adaverse is a Cardano Ecosystem Accelerator that aggregates entrepreneurs, strategists and mentors building its most robust foundation in Africa.