Payfort e-commerce online digital payments UAE dubai
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Customer experience has become central to e-commerce – why is this crucial for businesses today?

Being a customer-centric organisation, we obsess over making their payment experiences simple and secure. In a sector as competitive as e-commerce it’s important to build payment services based on consumer needs, which is integral in encouraging and empowering more consumers to make online payments and increase credit card penetration in the Middle East. Understanding this is very important for any online business and investing in bettering the customer payment experience should be an on-going activity rather than a one-time exercise, in order to retain and build trust with end consumers. When it comes to the payments leg of the journey, we need to understand that it is a new market with a lot of room for growth, and by understanding our customers, we will enable a faster growth.

What are your expectations for the growth of e-commerce in the region?

E-commerce was already seeing an exponential growth in the region. At Payfort, our transaction volumes have grown more than 50 per cent last year, which is indicative of how e-commerce is growing in the region. The current situation has now compelled many traditional sectors such as insurance, education and real estate to also expedite their digital transformation roadmap. The more such transformation happens, we anticipate to see a lot of innovation especially in the fintech world. Each region has different demographics, but customer needs are the same. For example, customers need access to credit. In the UAE, credit card penetration is high and access to credit is easy. Unlike in Egypt, where card penetration and access to credit is low. We are thrilled to see some start-ups identifying these opportunities for the underserved customers, which will further define the landscape. We also expect that governments will start playing a larger role in enabling the entire ecosystem.

Omar Soudodi, Managing Director of Payfort
Omar Soudodi, Managing Director of Payfort Image Credit: Supplied

How has online payments changed following the current COVID-19 crisis?

The biggest shift that we are seeing among the e-commerce customers is that cash on delivery customers are moving towards online payments. The current situation has also compelled many customers to try online businesses for their essential goods such as groceries and supplies. Customers are also looking for more affordable options like installments to make larger payments for school fees, insurance premiums and white goods more affordable. We also saw some new verticals pop-up like telemedicine and online pharmacies.

How will Payfort’s gateway offer merchants and consumers a seamless and secure payment experience?

At Payfort, we are seeing a spike in demand from businesses and institutions to start accepting payments especially from online retailers, educational institutes, healthcare and insurance. The best part of our solution is that we support multiple channels for businesses to collect payments. Apart from collecting payments on a website or an app, merchants can collect payments by just sending a payment link using Payfort’s Invoicing product. You do not need any website or technical expertise to start collecting payments. Consumers will get a link on their email, sms or WhatsApp and will be able to make their payments securely and in a seamless manner as the payment page is auto optimised for the device being used.

What are the main features of Payfort that help merchants gain an edge in payments?

Payfort is trusted by some of the largest online retailers in the region, including Amazon. Apart from providing a reliable and seamless payment experience, we pride ourselves in building some of the market leading features to make our merchants successful and provide consumers with an increasing number of options to pay. With the current situation, we see a lot of our merchants opting for Payfort’s Online Installments product. This service offers customers to break their purchase into three, six, nine or 12 months installments in real time during the checkout. Customer’s need not call their bank to convert their payments. Some of our e-commerce merchants have seen more than 7 per cent improvement in conversion rates at the checkout. This truly is an edge merchants can provide to their customers, especially during the current situation.

How has Payfort been able to help merchants and partners in light of the current situation?

We have invested in an extensive e-commerce startup support initiative called #StartUpStayUp exclusively for our merchants and partners in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, providing a three-month break from Payfort fees, while ramping up free digital marketing activities and expert support. The aim is to help as many businesses as we can to accept payments online quickly and improve cash flow.

We have also joined forces with major banks in the UAE, in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to promote the campaign to their customer bases through SMS announcements. The goal of this integrated approach will be to reach more than five million people and successfully drive awareness and demand for Payfort’s partners, while inspiring a sense of regional community. The campaign has launched in the UAE and will roll out to KSA and Egypt shortly after.

To find out more about online payments visit Payfort’s website.