February 6, 2023

Juan Kabayan

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Saudi National Bank partners with Mastercard and Saudi Esports Federation

Pictured: Representatives of Mastercard and the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF) last year. Image credit: Mastercard

The Saudi National Bank has announced a strategic partnership with financial company Mastercard and the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF).

Through the partnership, the three entities hope to “accelerate Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation and enhance its gaming and esports infrastructure,” according to a release. All parties will also explore and develop ‘innovative financial products and offerings’ that enhance the experience of gamers.

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The deal was announced during the SEF awards earlier this month.

The partnership follows Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 project, which is the country’s SAR 142bn (~£30.7bn) gaming and esports investment strategy. The strategy is a bid to turn the country into a centre for esports and gaming by 2030.

The Saudi Arabian government fully owns Savvy Games Group, an investment vehicle, via its Public Investment Fund. The SEF’s president is Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, a Saudi royal. The Saudi National Bank is majority-owned by the Saudi government via its Public Investment Fund and the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).

Last year, Savvy Games Group acquired and merged tournament platform FACEIT and tournament organiser ESL. It has also earmarked SAR 50bn (~£10.8bn) for the acquisition and development of a leading game publisher, as well as SAR 70bn (~£15.1bn) for minority stake investments in key companies.

Outside of this partnership, Mastercard also has a strong presence in esports. The financial company recently expanded its multi-year, global partnership with League of Legends publisher Riot Games. It sponsors the League of Legends World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), and All-Star event.

ESI Next GenEsports Insider has teamed up with the University of Warwick for ESI Next Gen. To find out more, click here.

Mastercard also announced a partnership with the SEF in June last year, and is partnered with North American esports organisation FlyQuest as of January last year. In 2019, the company teamed up with G2 Esports.

Saud Abdulaziz Bajbair, Head of Retail Business Group at Saudi National Bank, commented on the partnership: “This partnership confirms the importance of the private sector’s role in supporting the overall development movement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under Vision 2030.

“This agreement is an important step in the dissemination of new digital technologies that will contribute to making the Kingdom a leading hub for gaming and esports.”

Billy Studholme

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