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Building trust among online Arab shoppers


PayFort launches at ArabNet's Digital Summit to enhance online protection.

June 24, 2013 5:54 by

When looking at the exponential adoption of e-commerce and other Internet-based services around the world, the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region springs to mind as being the fastest growing. Overall internet penetration in the region is at a healthy 40 per cent, compared to a global average of 34 per cent.

In the United Arab Emirates alone, e-commerce penetration stands at 67 per cent, which, when compared to surrounding countries like Egypt or even Saudi Arabia, is relatively encouraging.

But along with this rapid pace of growth, comes the need for increased trust in online transactional gateways to further the region’s e-commerce capability, according to Omar Soudodi.

He’s the former general manager for (Egypt) and the current managing director of PayFort, a recently launched (during ArabNet’s Digital Summit in Dubai) payment gateway, aimed at providing online consumers and retailers with “unprecedented levels of transactional security”.

Soudodi says that the lack of trust in the region’s industry – among both retailers and customers alike – is just one of the several challenges that the Arab world faces with online transactions. He tells Kipp that each country in Mena faces its own set unique obstacles and that the company plans to tackle them one by one.

The payment gateway was developed specifically to address information security challenges with both consumers and retailers that demand simplified, secure payment options. It also aims to address issues by applying customised security policies, using various fraud detection modules and blocking attempts by recognised fraudsters.

PayFort has over 20,000 rules to safeguard against fraud detection.

The company delivers a complete suite of payment solutions to both large businesses and SMEs, provides a secure payment network and minimises fraudulent transactions. However, when quizzed about the cost of fraud in the region, Soudodi says the numbers aren’t that frightening.

“It really depends on each sector. Besides, I don’t think companies would be very willing to disclose that information, because it would scare people away,” he says. “The travel sector normally has the highest rate of fraud, but the numbers aren’t that significant.”

PayFort supports credit and debit card payment through globally recognised payment leaders including cashU, JCB, Mastercard, Visa and American Express.

With the ‘cash on delivery’ model becoming less appealing to online retailers in the region – mainly due to higher risks of product returns – the payment gateway has introduced a ‘Pay At Home’ service. A customer wouldn’t pay upon receiving a product, but rather hand over the cash to the courier roughly 24 hours after an order has been made.

“It’s an interim; a product that you have available in case you need it,” says Soudodi. “And we’ll continue to innovate depending on what the market is offering.”

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