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Saudi allows two firms to test computerized investment advice

DUBAI, July 30 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's capital market regulator on Tuesday approved two companies to test using robo-advisory services, or computer-generated advice for investors, as part of moves by the Arab world's biggest economy to encourage the use of financial technology.

The approvals for Wahed Capital and Haseed Investing Co come after the Saudi central bank launched an initiative last year to encourage banks to settle payments using blockchain software.

Financial centers in the Gulf region including Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain are also looking to cultivate a financial startup scene to position themselves as regional powerhouses in financial technology, or fintech.

The Saudi Capital Market Authority will allow clients to get advice on securities or investment schemes through automated online platforms operated separately by the two companies.

The companies will also be able to offer automated online discretionary investment management under what the regulator called a "financial technology experiment permit." (Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Mark Potter)