Egypt’s electronic payments amounted to EGP 2bn during 2014 with an annual growth rate of 25%, said PayFort Country Manager Ahmed Al-Salahy. He told Daily News Egypt that the Middle East market increases by 45% every year.
How do you see the growth of the electronic payments market in Egypt?
The Arab world’s electronic payments market is growing by 45% annually, with several sectors adopting e-payment solutions last year. These sectors include tourism, insurance, schools, universities and internet companies. Those sectors will contribute significantly to increasing the annual growth rate in the near future.
Which sectors grow the most?
The aviation sector accounts for the lion’s share of electronic payment services. EgyptAir offered online booking and payment services, which also encouraged private airlines to begin using such services, such as Nile Air, Air Cairo and Air Go, among others.
How is the government contributing in pushing the sector’s growth?
Governmental sectors are shifting to electronic payment in parallel with the traditional payment system. This provides various payment solutions and spreads the culture of electronic payments. There are many governmental entities utilising e-payments, such as Telecom Egypt, electricity companies, water companies and traffic services.
Government agencies should advise citizens on e-payment solutions and provide guidance for how the service is used. Continuous technological modernisation to secure e-payments will contribute directly to pushing the sector’s growth. Paying taxes on customs electronically instead of using checks will also help achieve this aim.
What are your plans for cooperation with the public sector in the provision of electronic payment solutions?
We already have future cooperation plans with the public sector. We are working to communicate with the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to provide more e-payment solutions to citizens. We are also negotiating with a number of governmental bodies, as well as private companies, to offer our services.
Is there a difference between Egyptians and Gulf consumers in terms of the electronic payments culture?
The culture of using electronic payment solutions for Egyptians is very different from that in the Gulf. Foreign and Gulf citizens are well aware with the services. The Gulf also has many e-payment companies that offer services in various sectors. The low purchasing power here also challenges the growth of the sector.
What solutions does PayFort offer?
PayFort offers four methods of payment. Customers can pay through the company’s portal, the websites of partner companies through different payment cards (Visa, Master Card, American Express, and Cash U), and through Fawry network, as well as paying electronically in instalments. In the Saudi market, we offer our services through the SADAD Payment System and in the UAE we use e-dirham.
What new services do you offer your clients?
We are always working to provide non-traditional payment methods. We have recently launched our collect-from-home service, where we send collectors to customers to collect via credit cards. A confirmation message is sent to consumers, right after collections. This service is used heavily in overseas markets.
How does PayFort see the e-commerce market?
The volume of e-commerce is currently estimated at $1.5bn annually in the Arab world, but it is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. The sector is expected to double in size to $3bn by 2020.
This growth is driven by provider companies that are growing locally and in the Middle East, in addition to raising awareness of the importance of e-commerce and the building trust between the client and e-commerce companies.
What is the size of electronic payments in the local market?
The size of electronic payments in the domestic market reached EGP 2bn last year, and it grows at 25% per year. This is supported by more than 500 electronic means of payment, whether via the internet or through smart phones across the Arab world.
What is the size of electronic payments through PayFort?
Electronic payment operations through the PayFort network amounted to EGP 6bn in 2014. We are targeting a 50% growth in the value of electronic collections through 2015, to reach EGP 9bn by the end this year.
What are the main challenges in the Egyptian market?
The major challenges facing the company include the difficulties in obtaining the US dollar from banks and the lack of foreign currency required by clients to purchase specific products or services.
Other major obstacles are the monthly deposit ceiling and the ceiling for obtaining dollars for all companies that do business with PayFort. This affects the services provided to the client and the speed of implementation of the service to users.
We offer electronic payment services with more than 80 different currencies around the world to contribute to the solution of all problems facing clients regarding currencies that they deal with during the payment process.
The second challenge is the lack of commitment by a number of e-commerce companies regarding the services they provide to clients, which causes a lack of trust between the client and the company, and hinders the sector’s growth rates, which in turn negatively affects the electronic payment market.
The third challenge is the lack of support to entrepreneurs and small enterprises in the field of electronic commerce and electronic payments because of the difficult requirements imposed by banks to finance small businesses or financially support their ideas.
Is there cooperation with start-ups and small enterprises?
The company helped to provide electronic payment services to a number of small enterprises of entrepreneurs in the domestic market. We bear their part of the responsibility in front of banks as a guarantor to provide them with electronic payment solutions.
PayFort launched the “Start” programme to support entrepreneurs and small enterprises to benefit from electronic payment services through the company’s experience in the UAE market. The programme awaits activation in Egypt during the second quarter of 2016.
What are your plans for cooperation with mobile operators?
We look forward to holding talks with the three mobile operators Vodafone, Mobinil and Etisalat to launch the e-wallet service, Moblie Wallet, for customers who can buy all household needs through e-commerce sites, the price of goods being added on their mobile bill. There is a possibility to provide the service over the coming period.
What about your role in cooperation with the government for the development of the e-commerce sector?
There is cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, represented by the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) to support e-commerce. We hold a monthly meeting in cooperation with the e-commerce and e-payment companies and ITIDA to discuss the laws that need to be developed for the e-commerce market, awareness systems and culture that must be spread to the consumer.
What are the countries in which the company provides its services?
PayFort is present in six countries, namely Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Jordan and Lebanon. We also aim to expand over the coming period to countries where there are laws organising e-commerce. The Saudi market is one of the best countries in organising e-commerce; it has progressed drastically in the field of e-commerce. Currently, we have plans to expand in a number of countries in the region between now and 2018.
PayFort offers its services to more than 600 websites in the Arab world, and there is the intention to increase these sites in the near future. The sectors that most use the company’s electronic payment solutions are aviation, tourism companies, electronics and mobile phone retail companies in the domestic and regional markets.
PayFort was established as a company specialised in the field of electronic payment solutions in the UAE in 2013. Then it expanded to the markets of Egypt and Saudi Arabia during the same year, and achieved online transactions in the local market during 2013, worth EGP 50m.