Mobile Payments Increasingly Part of Middle East Life

October 20, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Anecdotally, it was fairly easy to see that mobile payments are a technology on the march the world over, and with good reason. We’re seeing numbers that increasingly prove the evidence of our eyes out, and show us that what we’re seeing every day is what’s really happening. A recent report from Payfort suggests that mobile payments in the Middle East are doing pretty well, even as compared to just last year.

The new Payfort report noted that, on average, mobile payments in the Middle East were up 22 percent, with some nations in particular helping to drive the average up. Saudi Arabia was one of the leaders in the field with a 27 percent increase, while Egypt saw a 22 percent hike and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) posting a 21 percent gain.

The biggest gains in mobile payment use, the report notes, come from the “events and entertainment” market. This sector actually accounted for 33 percent annual growth just in the run-up from 2015 to 2016, and was likely to carry on going forward. It was enough for Payfort managing director Omar Soudodi to note that this was “…the most dramatic change…” the report had seen since its launch back in 2014.

It would be safe to say that growth should start to slow after those kinds of gains—nothing can grow forever, after all—but there’s actually still room for gains. The Payfort report pointed out 17 percent of those surveyed in the UAE are still looking for new options in international money transfers, and around 47 percent of users have yet to take advantage of mobile wallet services.

There’s room for potential gains in here, and it proves more than anything that mobile payments are still a technology just getting started. That’s great news for those who are involved in the field, as there are plenty of approaches yet to take to deliver value and land market share. Sure, this can’t go on forever—every market eventually matures and firms start shutting down; we’re already seeing this on some levels—but for now, opportunities continue to abound.

The gains in the Arab world are impressive enough, and they’re echoed the world over. There’s still room in this market, but for how much longer is unclear.