Digital payments and solutions will continue to see accelerated adoption

Cash is still king in many parts of the world, however, there are lots of incentives today to help people make the transition to a more digital form of payment
Cash is still king in many parts of the world, however, there are lots of incentives today to help people make the transition to a more digital form of payment

Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Thu 30 Sep 2021, 6:13 PM

Digital payments and financial solutions that make it easier to shop online will continue to see accelerated adoption across the UAE and Middle East region, driven by their success over the Covid-19 lockdown period, experts at Seamless Middle East 2021 said.

Abdulrazzaq Al Abdullah, chairman and CEO of Mint Group, told Khaleej Times that the Covid-19 pandemic had proven to be a key turning point for consumers and businesses in the region. Several banking and financial institutions, he said, had to accelerate their plans to meet the new needs of consumers, many of who were shopping online for the first time. He explained that financial inclusion remains a key target for Mint.

“We took the initiative early on to move towards a more cashless future and that has really helped us improve our market share,” he said. “We were already a digital-enabled company, with the aim of digital and financial inclusion, so we got the chance to target a demographic that we felt was underrepresented. We probably increased up to 20 per cent of our market share recently.”

Mint Middle East recently forged a strategic partnership with Texas-based global payments solutions leader, Payolog; the alliance is set to capture the next wave of the digital payments revolution by offering unified payment solutions and boost regional expansion through shared intellectual capital.

Al Abdullah noted that the announcement serves as the company’s commitment to the future. “We have successfully used the past decade for financial inclusion and creating technology awareness and have delivered innovative services to our customers. Mint's core philosophy of disruptive innovation is meant to advance ease of living, business, and the economy; these ideals, along with our new alliance, have propelled us into the future. Personally, I am excited about the technologies which will keep us ahead of our competitors.”

Sander Maertens, head of the Middle East region at Adyen, a payment provider offering a single-platform unified commerce solution globally, also spoke about innovation in the payments sphere and how in-store experiences have to seamless merge with online experiences. The next chapter in payments, he said, has to revolve around ‘Unified Commerce’.

Unified Commerce takes omni-channel payment solutions to the next level by connecting online and offline payments in one integrated system. In the UAE, Adyen is the first and only payment provider to offer a single-platform unified commerce solution. With direct card acquiring connections to Visa and Mastercard, transactions will be processed locally in the UAE via the Adyen platform.

Cash, Maertens said, is still king in many parts of the world, however, there are lots of incentives today to help people make the transition to a more digital form of payment. Contactless, mobile wallets, and smartphone payments have all seen rapid growth because people enjoy the convenience and added security they bring to the market.

“You have to give people the feeling that they are shopping with one brand, and Unified Commerce is one way to make it happen,” he said. “Consumers will be able to have greater convenience, greater speed, as well as a number of other benefits such as not having to wait in line at checkout, or even having to wait days for a refund. For retailers, a better customer experience means more brand loyalty.”

Peter George, MD at Amazon Payment Services, agreed that, for a long time, the regional payments sector was heavily reliant on cash, but that this is quickly changing. “The use of digital payments has skyrocketed in the past few years, and was further accelerated by the Covid-19 lockdown and hygiene measures, and this upward trend will only continue in the years to come as business and consumers alike adjust to the new normal of a digitalised economy.”

The digital payments sphere in the UAE in particular, he said, is an unbelievably dynamic, thriving space, partly driven by government strategies designed to promote the growth of the digital economy. “Across industries, businesses are increasingly making new payment methods available to customers, including options like digital wallets, Buy Now & Pay Later, payment links, and QR codes. Emerging FinTech startups are innovating in the digital payments sphere to eliminate customer pain points and make cashless payments available to more people, supported by initiatives such as the Amazon Fintech Lab at the DIFC Innovation Hub, which provides a forum for discussions on digital payments and the future of the FinTech industry.”

Digital payments, he added, will continue to penetrate new sectors in the region in the coming years, such as real estate, healthcare, events and exhibitions, and more, enabling businesses in these industries to increase the convenience, efficiency and security of their payment process for a better customer experience.

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