Leaving Cash Behind: The Rise of Electronic Payments in the MENA Region [REPORT]

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This report, published by Strategy&, reveals the ways in which shifting from cash-based systems to e-payment systems can benefit both the public and private sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

As the report details, e-payment systems can gain traction in the region by focusing on the needs of key stakeholders and customizing e-payment offerings to local conditions. Service providers, financial intermediaries, government agencies, and consumers all have something to gain as long as an e-payment platform actively involves them from the start, according to the report.

Download the report below to read more about the benefits of adopting an e-payment system, as well as the best practices for establishing a successful structure.

Executive Summary

For too long, governments and businesses in the MENA region have relied on cash to pay their employees, make or receive payments, and fulfill other financial obligations. As a result, their economies have been slowed by the negative side effects of needing cash on hand- long lines and wait times, instances of delayed or missed payments, and paper-based record-keeping, to name a few.

In recent years, though, some MENA countries have started to turn to electronic payments to alleviate these constraints and boost the efficiency and transparency of their operations. Governments have benefited by enhancing their liquidity and opening the financial system to a larger portion of their population. Businesses have lowered their costs of doing business, while creating more secure and reliable means of conducting transactions. Consumers have gained greater insight into their finances, along with reclaiming some of their lost time.

As governments and businesses in MENA countries seek to replicate the success of e-payments’ early adopters, how well they fare will depend on the extent to which they are able to spread the benefits to these diverse stakeholders, account for their specific needs, and actively involve them in the design and implementation of e-payments systems.

Key Highlights:

• Although adoption of e-payments has grown at a strong pace in the MENA region in recent years, the region still has significant ground to make up in terms of total penetration.

• E-payment systems’ service offerings should not be generic, but rather must take into account environmental and infrastructure factors—such as cultural aversion to information technology—in order to motivate stakeholders to migrate from cash and check alternatives.

• Involvement of myriad key stakeholders at the outset of an e-payments strategy is critical to ensuring a timely ramp-up phase and avoiding potential future conflicts.

• Motivations and intentions vary significantly across the various key stakeholders, and as such governments and businesses charged with establishing e-payments systems should effectively define and align incentives in a transparent manner so that the benefits can be shared by all.

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