Tackling the problems of online payments

Managing director of PayPal MENA, Elias Ghanem tells StartUp how the payment culture in the region is changing and why m-commerce is the future.

It’s a common complaint among e-commerce businesses across the Middle East and North Africa: The payment gateways just aren’t good enough.

Expensive, unreliable, insecure, unfamiliar to banks, merchants and customers - there simply hasn’t been a solid relationship between the service providers, users, and consumers.

The knock-on effects for start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs are manifold, with many losing potential sales or having to instal a costlier and riskier cash-on-delivery system.

Logistics, business plans, staffing, and other aspects of a business can be severely affected by the lack of a coherent, reliable and trusted payment gateway, with buyers being forced to look to other options.

But all of that could be about to change.

In September, PayPal published a report which could revolutionise the way businesses view online payments , driving an improvement in service across the region.

PayPal Insights: E-commerce in the Middle East was compiled in conjunction with Ipsos, which carried out an extensive research project to help identify problems in the payment market, and build a plan to not only solve them, but to unlock the e-commerce potential in MENA.

With 110 million internet users and 290 million mobile users in a population of 350 million, the number of e-shoppers should well exceed the existing 30 million.

Indeed, the report predicts that the e-commerce market in MENA will be worth $15bn by 2015 - a staggering figure which is almost double the $9bn it was worth in 2012.

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