As the growth of e-commerce in the Middle East has accelerated, so too has the introduction of new online payment solutions. Meanwhile, the unbanked and under-banked population is slowly shrinking, credit card use is on the rise in the GCC, and debit cards are becoming increasingly popular for online purchases.
On the topic of card payment, it’s worth mentioning one further option, which is aligned with local cultural preferences and beginning to catch on with consumers—the prepaid credit or payment card.
Prepaid Credit and Payment Cards
Of all electronic payment methods, prepaid cards, which can be physical or virtual, are enjoying the fastest growth across the Middle East, — nowhere more so than in the United Arab Emirates, where solution provider PayNXT360 says the market for this payment category is expected to be worth $8.6 billion by 2020.
If your enterprise has a physical presence in the region, you might wish to consider accepting some of the popular domestic prepaid cards.
If not, you will still be able to accept payment from prepaid Visa cards and Mastercards via your credit card payment gateway. Prepaid cards offer certain benefits that make them popular with both vendors and shoppers. For example:
- There is no credit involved with the use of prepaid cards
- Security is less of a concern, as potential losses are limited to the balance on the card
- The need to load the cards makes them useful for keeping budgets under control
- Some prepaid products are available even to unbanked consumers
- Enterprises can launch their own branded prepaid card solutions
- Virtual cards are available, which online shoppers can acquire and activate in moments
Other Online Payment Solutions
Aside from prepaid cards, other solutions continue to emerge as superior alternatives to cash-on-delivery. Here are a few examples that you might wish to include in your range of accepted payment methods.
PayPal: One of the most trusted payment providers on the global stage, PayPal is gradually making headway in the Middle East. The main drawback of the globally popular mobile wallet solution right now is the fact that only a few banks in the region support the use of their credit and debit cards with PayPal.
PayFort: If ever there was an “anti-COD” payment solution, it is the PAYatHOME and PAYatSTORE systems introduced by PayFort. These voucher-based schemes enable consumers to pay with cash, but only in advance of shipping. Although they might not spare your enterprise from dealing with cash payments, they do shorten payment cycles and help to minimize customer returns.
CashU: Another mobile wallet similar in many ways to PayPal, the CashU difference is that it was launched expressly to serve Middle East markets. The CashU solution has been around since 2002, so it has had plenty of time to become established as a trusted payment system among consumers in the region. In addition to its digital wallet product, CashU account holders can also take advantage of a prepaid virtual Mastercard, enabling them to shop online with any merchant that uses the Mastercard network.