Category Archives: Payments

Is Social Media the Future for Money Transfers?

Facebook users around the world can now access a new money transfer system built directly into their messenger app. The social media giant has been eyeing up the digital payments space for years, and now an integration with TransferWise is making it a reality.

The new process relies on a custom-built chatbot that enables messenger users to send cash nearly anywhere in the world directly through Facebook’s chat app. The chatbot provides a range of functions and is capable of wiring money to family and friends, conducting online purchases (available in Britain, Canada, the United States and Australia for now), and carrying out forex transactions.

Last year Facebook introduced support for domestic money transfers within the U.S., but this new functionality marks the first-time users can access international transfers from within Messenger.

Over a billion people are currently using the Messenger app and this number is increasing as internet and smartphone penetration grows. This means an accessible and convenient platform is already in place for a massive portion of the global population. This alone would attract many businesses to use messenger, but surprisingly it is also a very versatile platform with many companies praising its potential to reshape online commerce.

How Does It All Work?

The system uses a chatbot built directly into Facebook messenger, meaning all users need to do is start a conversation in Messenger with the TransferWise Bot. Next, you’ll be prompted to log in or sign up for a TransferWise account, then the bot asks for the currency you’d like to use and the desired recipient.

Interestingly Facebook isn’t making any revenue from the service and is instead more focused on the users this service brings to their messenger platform. For Facebook, it’s all about increasing engagement, the more points of contact with its users the better.

Cracking the Habit of Traditional Money Transfer

Well, there’s no doubt that this technology has huge potential to disrupt the global money transfer industry, some experts are skeptical. John Davis, VP of the financial firm Stifel, believes that these types of transfers will remain a bit of novelty in the short term.

“In the early days, I think the user base probably will likely come from people looking to make a spontaneous transfer; think of a person who wants to repay someone or perhaps send a friend a birthday gift”, Davis said.

He went on to say that people are creatures of habit. If you’ve been transferring money using a service for years and you’re comfortable with it, it’s going to take a lot to make you change to something new.

Would you make a money transfer through Facebook? What would it take to make you move away from traditional money transfers? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest trends.

Mobile Wallets Gaining Popularity Among Youth

A recent study showed that almost two thirds (64%) of 18-25 year olds in the UK are now using a mobile wallet for selected purchases. The research carried out by MoneyMailMe, found 48% of young people believe that physical money will be phased out within 20 years, and 38% said they will stop using physical money long before that time.

This reveals a striking trend among Gen Z consumers and gives a strong signal to businesses targeting this demographic; young people are starting to prefer alternative methods of payments to cash, even for small daily purchases.

80% of survey participants claim to make daily purchases under £20, and 62% said they we’re frustrated by needing to use cash for these small purchases. This problem can directly impact a business’ bottom-line, with 15% of shoppers saying they would seek out another service provider over one that only accepts cash payments.

All this information re-enforces a clear trend among today’s youth; they are frustrated with physical money. Flexibility is what is important and that means having access to your money, when you need it, regardless of if there’s an ATM nearby.

For electronic payment companies this represents a huge potential market. Despite already being populated by big names there is still room for new start-ups to enter the space, especially for those that are willing to listen to the consumer base and identify underserved markets.

For example, 49% of respondents said that they regularly settle debts with their friends for amounts between £5 – £15 per month, but many do not consider using bank transfers due to high fees. This is a space where digital wallets can shine, companies that find the perfect balance between convenience, low costs to users, and revenue generation are primed to become some of the biggest players in this space.

The younger generation has grown up with mobile technology at their fingertips and for many of them cash is an outdated concept, especially when they know how many alternatives are available. Only 36% of those surveyed say that they currently don’t use a mobile wallet, and nearly all are interested in using one in the future.

What are your thoughts on the mobile wallet trend? Do you think the same trends will emerge in the Middle East marketplace? Let us know in the comments below and follow us on Twitter for the latest Payment News.

Sadad account is changing the Fintech game in Saudi Arabia

Based on our recent #Stateofpayments report 2016 “Saudi Arabia’s growth was fueled by a growing eCommerce market and an increase in online travel bookings, with these sectors representing the largest growth in the region. Moving forward into 2020 we expect to see positive growth throughout the Middle East with countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt leading the region.

With more and more people moving online, Saudi Arabia is expected to see substantial growth. Also based on the report was stating that a lack of trust in payment systems was one of the main reasons for offline shoppers not embracing online shopping.

Here came the importance of  local payment methods such as Sadad Payment System, it’s a national Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP) service provider for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . Sadad has managed to shift consumers’ behavior by moving them from physical channels (branches) to electronic channels (ATM, Phone Banking, and Online Banking), branches usage went down from 73% to 12%.

And again Sadad account came to become a game changer for the online world and a great boost to the e-commerce industry in Saudi. As a small or medium enterprise, you can now expand your customer base. Sadad account provides your business with an easy, secure and convenient payment platform online. This grants your products more visibility, facilitates accessibility and helps your business grow

“Using @SADAD account with the PAYFORT, Saudi enterprises will be able to offer online payment options to an expanded consumer base” explains Muteb Alobeiwi , PAYFORT Regional Manager.

By adding  Sadad account to Payfort means that merchants only have to integrate one API (Application Programming Interface) with their online stores in order to add bank account payments to the choice of payment methods offered to online customers. PAYFORT comes with a new dashboard to help enterprises optimise their payment processes and increase conversions.

Sadad Account A secure, One-Stop Solution For Online Payments.

#Sadad_account is an innovative new, non-card based payment solution which lets you pay for goods and services from a wide and growing selection of participating online merchants – directly from your account.

No need for a credit or debit card. No need to share sensitive card or bank account information. Sadad Account processes your online purchase securely and automatically, so you can shop with total confidence.

How to buy/shop #online with #SADAD_account?

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Follow us on @payfort  to keep up to date with any news regarding #sadad_account on twitter , also share with us if you had purshased online using #sadad_account

State of Payments 2015 Survey

PAYFORT started over 2 years ago with a simple goal; bring businesses and their customers together through better online payments. Along our journey we’ve learned a lot, and we believe that one of the best ways for us to achieve that goal is to share our knowledge with you, our readers.

Since day one, we’ve been passionate about understanding the trends and habits that drive transactions in the Arab world.  That passion is what led us to create our last 2 ‘State of Payments Reports’. Both the 2014 and 2015 reports provided a detailed look at payments in the region, and offered insight into the future of some of the GCC’s largest industries.

The responses we received from you we’re overwhelming, and in the last 2 years one thing has become very clear; you are just as passionate about this information as we are.

That’s why this year we want to hear from you. We’ve put together a short survey (will take less 5 minutes to complete) so that you can share your thoughts on the 2015 State of Payments report. Tell us what you liked and what you didn’t and we’ll use your feedback to make our next State of Payments report the best one yet.

Whether you’re a government organization, a newly funded start-up, or a consumer, we believe everyone can benefit from a better understanding of online payments; so let’s work together to make the best report we can.

Click here to complete the survey

Payfort Monthly Roundup

This week we’re introducing a new monthly roundup that covers some of the most interesting stories of the month. Whether you’re interested in the latest startups-to-watch or new technologies hitting the market, we’ve got something for you.

Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below and if there’s a story you’d like to see covered in next month’s wrap up be sure to reach out on Twitter.

News: Wuzzuf Secures Egypt’s Largest Funding Round

Over the past years, the Middle East has seen increasing attention from western VCs looking to invest in new markets. For BasharSoft, the startup behind Egyptian recruiting site Wuzzuf, this investment has propelled the company into the local spotlight.

Last week Wuzzuf closed a Series A worth $1.7 million from Sweden-based Vostok New Ventures and UK-based Piton Capital. Wuzzuf, created in 2009 by Basharsoft, uses a proprietary algorithm that analyses applicant profiles and jobs to produce real-time recommendations for both employers and job seekers.

Despite the impressive funding round, Wuzzuf still faces stiff competition in the Egyptian recruitment market. Bayt.com is currently operating in the region and it is rumoured that Rocket Internet are looking to join the jobs classifieds business within the MENA region.

Startups to Watch: Swappaholics launches skillz.io

Swappaholics, an innovative startup that graduated from Dubai’s TURN8 Accelerator program, has launched a disruptive new platform that looks to shake up the way skilled individuals get things done.

Skillz.io is described as a ‘skills swapping portal’ and is modelled around a barter trade system that allows individuals to connect and swap skills in a social setting. A website designer might offer to design a website for a legal professional in exchange for legal services in the future.

It’s unclear whether this new style of service exchange will catch on, but if it does there’s no doubt it will have a big impact for freelancers across the region. Additionally, by turning individual’s skills and knowledge into a useable currency, Skillz has the potential to kick-start local economies where traditional money is in short supply.

Technology: Will smart-shirts be the next big thing in wearables?

Sensors are showing up in more and more of our daily items, evolving each day to improve their accuracy and most importantly their comfort. Building on the technology found in many smartphones and smart watches, Montreal-based Pierre-Alexandre Fournier has developed what may be the future of wearable sensors.

Fournier’s new ‘smart-shirt’ technology was developed by his company, Hexoskin and employs sensors that allow athletes, or anyone, to track their movement, burned calories, and more.

Fournier’s major innovation isn’t creating these wearable smart-shirts, but making them small, comfy, and affordable. Wearable sensors can be found in Nike and Adidas shoes, as well as several smart watches but the tech is bulky and expensive.

This type of wearable tech hasn’t found much use outside of professional sports and fitness enthusiasts, but as the cost drops and people get more comfortable with sensors in their lives it might only be a few years before we see products like iClothes and the Galaxy Shirt.

Event: Mix n’ Mentor – Beirut 2015 – Hosted by Wamda

Mix N’ Mentor Beirut, the largest gathering of established Lebanese startups, took place this weekend on September 5th. Mix N’ Mentor brings together promising entrepreneurs with top regional and global mentors.

The event connects you with VCs, serial entrepreneurs, and mentors all of whom are looking to remove barriers and support the region’s growing startup community.

Event: Techniya – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Are you part of startup looking for a place to pitch your ideas? Do you want to get feedback that can help you get the most out of your business? Are you located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia?

If your answers to the above questions are yes, then be sure to check out @Techniya, a monthly meeting where you can talk with likeminded individuals to see if your idea has what it takes. It‘s a private event that takes place on the first Thursday of each month, so if your interested check out techniya.com/register and apply for an official invitation.

Are there any interesting stories you’d like to see on the Payfort blog? Be sure to share them below in the comments or reach out on twitter @payfort!

Online Payments In the Arab World

Over the past 5 years, the Middle East has experienced unprecedented growth in the world of online payments. Though initially slow to adopt the practise, more and more people across the region are starting to experience the convenience and simplicity of online payments.

As consumers become more comfortable, online payments in the region will continue expanding. A tidal wave of new customers are about to join the ecommerce market and it’s going to have a major impact across the Middle East.

With so much happening at once, it can be difficult to see the big picture and recognize where opportunities lie. That’s why we’ve put together the following infographic to help you understand where this growth has taken place thus far, and where to expect it the future. Based on transactional data and discussions with industry leaders, it will help you position yourself and your business to take advantage of the current online payment boom.

Want even more data? Be sure to check out our 2015 State of Payments report, and follow us on Twitter @payfort for even more online payments news.

Download the Infographic

Final_EN_PYF_Growth_in_the_Arabian_Market_08102015 (2)

Download the Infographic

Payfort acquires White Payments

“How hard could it possibly be?”, I remember thinking. Boy was I in for a treat.

It was April 2014, and I’d just got back from a month-long biking trip to Iceland — a 1,300km journey around Iceland’s Route 1, the road that circles the entire island.

I was dabbling with new ideas for a startup, and found myself intent on solving the broken public transport system in my native Bahrain. So I built out this super-simple landing page and just needed to setup payments so I could test it out in the wild (with real paying customers). I’d set aside a few hours for the payment integration, but quickly found out that I’d need more than that. Alot more. My initial googling efforts revealed that I needed a trade license, a $30,000 security deposit about a month to get setup with the bank. This was a joke. I knew that the process takes about an hour in the US, and it’s also completely free. (more…)

Twitter – Social Network or Ecommerce Platform?

Last week we looked at the social media landscape here in the Middle East asking businesses where they’ll be focusing their social efforts in the coming years. What we didn’t discuss was how these social networks might evolve during that time. Earlier this week we saw an example of this evolution with Twitter’s latest venture into ecommerce. (more…)

Social Media in the Arab World – Part 2

Earlier this week we took a look at how social media is being utilized by some of the region’s biggest companies in the Airlines and Travel industries. In this post we’ll be expanding on our review to include the social media trends of Ecommerce, Marketplace Services, and the Events and Entertainment industries. (more…)

Social Media in the Arab World – Part 1

No matter what industry you operate in social media has become an important tool to expand your voice and increase brand awareness. What started out as a simple tool for connecting people is now one of the best ways for businesses to create meaningful relationships with their customers. (more…)

State of Payments Teaser

PayFort began in 2013 with a simple goal, connecting businesses and their customers through better payment options.  Since then we have processed billions of dollars in transactions and worked with hundreds of online businesses across the Arab World.

(more…)

Updates from ArabNet: Mobile Users, Emerging Sectors and Wearables

Hello from lovely Lebanon and ArabNet Beirut! We’re checking in with an update after Day 2 of the conference. (more…)

Three Things You Can’t Miss at ArabNet Beirut

It’s just 6 days until one of the Middle East’s very best conferences, ArabNet Beirut. And at Payfort we are getting ready to turn that out of office on and hop on a plane to beautiful Lebanon! (more…)

Earning Trust in the GCC

When we talk to our merchants about the challenges they face in the Arab World the one theme that always resurfaces is trust. Ecommerce companies face an uphill battle gaining trust with consumers and this slows growth across the region. (more…)

The 100 Best Twitter Handles in the Arab World – A List for the Arab Entrepreneur

One of the hallmarks of a strong digital economy is knowledge sharing. A network of conferences and influencers must lead the distribution of information that will help us tackle problems like low credit card adoption that hold back ecommerce in the region. (more…)

5 Predictions for Ecommerce in the Arab World in 2015

At Payfort, we always gather our teams in January to discuss and plan for the upcoming year.  As part of this exercise we discuss the important trends we expect to see emerge in the next twelve months. (more…)

Christmas, Travel and the Arab World

At Payfort we work with many companies in the travel industry, and we’ve found that Christmas is one of their peak periods for transactions. We decided to delve into the data with the aim of providing some insight to decision makers and marketers. (more…)

Ecommerce in the Arab World – The Infographic

At Payfort our passion is to drive the growth of ecommerce in the Arab World – it’s what inspired us to build this business and start this blog.

It also inspired us to pen the State of Payments report this past spring. (more…)

Innovation and Payments in the Middle East

Welcome to the Payfort blog, a little corner of the internet dedicated to innovation, ecommerce and of course payments in the Middle East. We’ll be checking in with weekly installments that cover a range of issues that relate to your business. (more…)