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.
Above all, we want to give you a view from the coalface of innovation and ecommerce in the Middle East. This is a unique market and our goal is to profile voices that can help address the opportunities and pitfalls that come with the territory.
An Emerging Ecommerce Market
The Middle East is a rapidly emerging market. Ecommerce is a small but important part of that growth and in the Arab World it grew by 45% in 2013.
Digital commerce trails far behind more established markets, however, this is rapidly changing as the online population in the market pushes past 141 million. Smartphone penetration is astonishingly high and in the GCC there are 2.9 smartphones per capita.
Be sure to download the State of Payments, our report that covers the growth of digital payments in this market.
The Middle East is a unique market and it will contribute a great deal to the global digital economy in the form of revenue, consumers and innovative ecommerce platforms.
Of course, what makes the Middle East unique and exciting also presents significant challenges. Ecommerce sites here face issues that are foreign to companies in other markets. A large percentage of potential customers remain unbanked (people who use no ﬁnancial institutions to save or borrow their money) creating a massive barrier to online transactions. Regional instability closes off whole markets to expanding businesses and scares away major investors.
Capital is on the rise and the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association reports that private equity investment in the Middle East was USD 251 million in the first half of 2014, already surpassing the USD 239 million invested in 2013. Nonetheless, funding levels are not where they need to be if we are to develop a true digital economy in the Middle East.
Innovation and Growth
The digital market in the Middle East faces major challenges. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, and the soul of entrepreneurship is taking complex problems and solving them.
We use cash on delivery and pre-paid cards to bring more and more customers into the digital market, while brands like Dubizzle take established models and adapt them for an Arab audience. For every problem there are four new companies eager to solve it.
And that’s what this blog is going to be about – solving problems and connecting people so we can build a vibrant digital economy. We’ll profile the voices of experts and conduct in-depth research that allows you to better navigate the waters of ecommerce, payments and digital marketing in the Middle East.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates. And if you have any areas you want us to cover, just drop us a comment below.