Cafes and restaurants in Saudi Arabia will provide electronic payment methods to customers in an effort to reduce cash circulation. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has made it mandatory for all cafes and restaurants in the Kingdom to provide electronic payment methods to customers to reduce cash circulation and enable them to rely on contactless ways.

The move, part of the initiative launched by the National Programme to Combat Commercial Cover-up (Tasattur), came into force from July 29, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

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The programme was applied as the fifth phase of an initiative to encourage outlets to provide e-payment methods, which so far has covered 50 commercial activities and accounting for 70 per cent of the retail sector.

The remaining activities must adopt these services by August 25. This is being implemented in coordination with the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).

Phased adoption

The first phase covered gas stations, while workshops and stores for auto parts were covered in the second. The third phase included personal services such as laundry and men’s and women’s salons, while the fourth targeted groceries and supply stores.

The fifth phase includes restaurants serving food for parties, fast food, seafood, cafes, buffets, cafeterias, trucks selling food, as well as juice and ice cream shops.

The Ministry of Commerce said that it would monitor outlets and ensure the availability of e-payment services in all of them. And if it refuses to provide them, it will apply the "maximum" legal penalties for non-compliant establishments.

The initiative follows recommendations approved by the authorities to combat activities such as under invoicing. The introduction of e-payment is also part of the Kingdom’s ambitious drive to become a cashless society.