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Despite a Cold Approaching Winter, PayPal Strikes the MENA Iron While it's Hot

Mobile Commerce Insider Featured Article

November 14, 2012

Despite a Cold Approaching Winter, PayPal Strikes the MENA Iron While it's Hot

By Allison Boccamazzo
TMCnet Web Editor

Paypal, self-described as “the world’s most-loved way to pay and get paid,” is looking to become even more loved in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where it’s now aiming to double its shares of e-commerce over the next three years, or by 2015. After enabling customers in seven of the region’s countries to open accounts linked to locally issues bank cards, it doesn’t seem the company will have too hard of a time accomplishing this goal, either.

The e-commerce industry in MENA is currently estimated at $9 billion, with PayPal (News - Alert) holding a cozy five percent share, but that’s nowhere near the company’s enhanced goal of a 10 percent share by 2015, according to Elias Ghanem managing director of PayPal MENA in a statement. 

Image via Shutterstock

About half of the region’s one million customers are located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but the problem resided in the fact that until very recently, they needed a credit or debit card issued in other regions, according to executives at a news conference on Wednesday as issued in said statement.

To directly address this issue, the newest inclusions in the MENA region who can now link a PayPal account to locally issued Visa, MasterCard (News - Alert) or American Express credit or debit cards include Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Jordan. The company also further plans to expand its presence to nearby countries.

As the winter months roll in and everyone typically becomes slightly sluggish, the company has certainly been keeping busy. In going full speed ahead, it has also announced a partnership with Dubai-based courier Aramex, which will allow regional customers to ship goods home from the U.S., Britain and China; is planning to soon launch Arabic language services; and aims to open a Dubai office in 2013.

Most regional e-commerce is spent on goods sources outside of MENA, but only 15 percent of businesses within the region have an online presence. PayPal plans to soften this blow by recruiting more shoppers as well as enlisting more MENA-based merchants to create an overall more rounded-out e-commerce environment.

"Today, consumers don't necessarily find everything they want here. As the market grows, merchants will build up better services and domestic and regional e-commerce will take over international e-commerce," explained Laurent Wakim, PayPal's head of MENA business development to Reuters (News - Alert). Additionally, Ghanem added that “there’s an opportunity to take this from the hundreds into the thousands,” even with the possibility of one day hosting 25,000 sellers from the region.

While regional e-commerce has been slow in the region, PayPal cites research anticipating business-to-consumer (B2C) online sales in MENA to hit $15 billion by 2015.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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