Stock - Peter George of Amazon Payment Services
Peter George of Amazon Payment Services: "We partner banks as well as digital payment gateways so that our merchants can offer a range of payment options to customers - including the most popular payment gateways for each market." Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Amazon in retail – pure domination. Amazon in web services – clearly among the big boys in tech that offer cloud computing and data analytics and all that sort of thing.

Amazon in payment services? Can it really pull that off? Peter George is the newly appointed Managing Director at Amazon Payment Services and he sets the record straight on what the ambitions are in this particular space.

Amazon in retail and web services operate quite the standout business lines in these markets. Is Amazon in digital payments running some distance behind?

The two sides are not really comparable, as Amazon’s retail business and AWS are global services that have been running for years. Amazon Payment Services (APS) currently serves the MENA region and is a much younger business.

Established as Payfort in 2013 as one of the first fintech companies in the region, we have gained a deep understanding of businesses' needs. In 2017, Amazon acquired Payfort as part of the Souq Group acquisition.

Since then, the focus has been on integrating Payfort and Amazon offerings to provide businesses with a convenient and trusted service. APS is now established, with over 4,000 merchants across MENA, and over 2,000 in the UAE, and is one of the most trusted digital payment services in the region, having securely processed millions of transactions to date.

Banks have adopted digital payments - and so have the likes of Apple and Samsung, when it comes to allowing consumers that choice. Why is Amazon focused on B2B only in these markets?

I think we first have to make the distinction between digital payment gateways, such as Amazon Pay, and a digital payment service provider such as APS. We are a payment processing service to empower businesses with simple, affordable, and trusted online payment experiences.

We have a B2B model and provide secure online payment services that are easy-to-use. We provide a full suite of digital payment services to a merchant, covering everything from offering multiple payment options to consumers to data monitoring, cybersecurity and more.

We partner banks as well as digital payment gateways so that our merchants can offer a range of payment options to customers - including the most popular payment gateways for each market.

Do you plan to extend digital payments to consumers as well? Or are there multiple regulatory clearances to be got?

Amazon Payment Services is a service provider built for merchants in the MENA region. It allows them to manage the entire online payment process from start to finish. On the other hand, Amazon Pay allows customers to pay for products and services using the information already stored in their Amazon accounts.

However, Amazon Pay is not available in the MENA region. We cannot comment further on any future plans in this regard.

Are your payment services only for your business partners? How is a typical payment structured?

Our payment services are available to our network of over 4,000 merchants across MENA. There are a number of different payment services available to partners through APS, such as the ‘Collect’ service, whereby merchants can get paid from anywhere online by generating a payment link that can be sent to customers via email or SMS, even if their business doesn’t have a website.

At the core, our payments are structured to enable merchants to build simple and smart shopping experiences for customers. Merchants who avail our services can customize their payment channels to cater to everyone and collect payments anytime, anywhere.

Cashless and card-less payments - how soon do you think digital can be the number one payment method in these markets?

For a long time, the regional payments sector was heavily reliant on cash, but this is quickly changing. The use of digital payments has skyrocketed, and this trend will only continue in the new normal of a digitalized economy.

With countries like the UAE adopting government strategies designed to promote the growth of the digital economy, and a diversity of digital payment options becoming available to customers in the region, digital is set to eventually become the primary payment method in the region. How soon this will happen will vary from market to market...