Mobile Payments in the Middle East: News Roundup

Mobile Payments in the Middle East: News Roundup

The Middle East is witnessing a burgeoning mobile payment market with a number of players offering a multitude of diverse services.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) in particular has seen a boom in the number of available mobile payment services. Mobile operator Etisalat launched its mobile wallet Etisalat Wallet in 2016, the same year, that Emirates NBD bank released NBD Pay, a near-field communication- (NFC) based mobile contactless payment service. Apple Pay launched in the UAE last year while Samsung Pay arrived this year. And a consortium of 16 banks in the UAE launched the Emirates Digital Wallet (EDW) in 2017 to provide various mobile payment services such as mobile point of sale (POS) payments and mobile peer-to-peer (P2P) bank payments.

In Kuwait, companies including One Pay and Quickpay have been enabling customers to pay for their bills from a mobile app. Last year, the National Bank of Kuwait made its contactless payment service NBK Tap & Pay available on smartwatches and the Kuwait Finance House launched its KFH Wallet in partnership with Mastercard, enabling users to perform mobile payments at merchants’ NFC POS terminals in the country.

As mobile payment continues to grow in the Middle East, the following compiles some of the latest developments in the space:


Google launches mobile wallet in the UAE

Google Pay, via Twitter

Google Pay, via Twitter

Google launched Google Pay, the firm’s digital wallet and online payment platform, in the UAE last month, allowing Android users to conduct contactless payments.

Users need to register the details of their Mastercard or Visa cards issued by any of the partner banks, which include Emirates Islamic, Emirates NBD, Mashreq and Standard Chartered, in the Google Pay app. Then they just need to turn their phone on and press it to the contactless terminal to make a payment electronically via NFC.

The mobile wallet market is predicted to hit US$2.3 billion by 2022 in the UAE, according to a report by US-based consulting firm TechSci Research.


UAE mobile wallet app Beam eyes global expansion

Dubai-based mobile payment platform Beam will expand in seven new markets in 2019, according to a report by Arabian Business.

Beam’s UAE operations were acquired by Majid Al Futtaim last month.

Since launching in the UAE in 2012, Beam has built a user base of approximately a million users, said Beam co-founder Shezan Amiji, adding that in the next six months the company plans to expand into Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Beam already has a presence in Sweden in Australia.


ENBD’s digital bank Liv. partners with Australian payment startup Verrency


UAE-based Emirates NBD’s digital bank Liv. has signed a partnership with Verrency, an Australian payment startup, for long-term innovation services.

The partnership will see Emirates NDB leverage Verrency’s cloud-based payment service and V+ fintech partners to offer new services to Liv.’s customers.

“Verrency will enable Liv. to deliver on its innovation-led proposition by launching multiple global firsts in payments technology and rapidly deploy value-added services to UAE consumers,” said Verrency’s commercial director for Asia and Middle East, Aaron Oliver.

“By subscribing to the Verrency service, Liv. will be able to cost-effectively remain at the forefront of digital banking by continually enhancing its capabilities via easy connections to multiple service providers without requiring significant change in its existing payments and technology infrastructure.”

Launched in May 2017, Liv. is a mobile-only bank providing an intuitive banking experience targeted at millennials.


UAE payment solutions provider Network International partners with Alipay

UAE payment solutions provider Network International has partnered with Alipay to provide the growing number of Chinese shoppers in the UAE with mobile payment capabilities.

Network International, which operates in the Middle East and Africa region, will act as both settlement partner and solution provider for mobile-based transactions via Alipay at POS terminals and for online purchases.


Israeli online-only bank Pepper to launch in the US

Pepper digital bank

Pepper digital bank,

Israel’s Bank Leumi is in talks with potential partners to launch its mobile-only bank Pepper in the US, according to a report by the Financial Times.

Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, Bank Leumi’s chief executive, told the Financial Times in New York: “We … are currently pursuing several options for collaborations in the US with significant and interesting players.”

Launched in 2017, Pepper is a digital bank that’s initially offering individual accounts with plans to move into securities and mortgages, as well as joint banking options.

Russak-Aminoach said Pepper’s technology will set it aside from the competition.

“While most digital banks today are simply a new interface built on top of old legacy systems, Bank Leumi decided to deliberately create a self-disruption by building a fully-mobile, digital bank from the ground up,” she said.


A15 sells stake in UAE mobile payment startup TPAY to Helios Investment Partners

A15, a Cayman Islands-based technology investment firm, announced in September that it had sold its 76% stake in UAE-based regional mobile payment startup TPAY to Helios Investment Partners, one of Africa’s biggest private equity firms.

A15 and the current executive team remain invested in a total of 24% of the company and continue to lead implementation of TPAY’s growth strategy.

Established in 2014, with offices in Dubai and Cairo, TPAY claims it was the first open mobile payment platform to be launched in the region. TPAY allows direct carrier billing, connecting businesses with customers who need to make mobile payments, and operates across 16 countries, including Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, with nearly half of its transactions coming in Africa.

Today, TPAY has a total reach of 673 million users and records an annual growth of 65%, according to A15 CEO Fadi Antaki.


Featured image: Middle East,