In the past few years, I’ve had the chance to learn about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in more than one country in the MENA region and Europe. As a result, I reached the sad conclusion that Algeria is the only country that is yet to see any fully functional electronic payment solutions.
Some features are currently available, such as recharging phone credit through bank accounts and even paying for some services online, but these services are subject to extremely tight restrictions. E-payment itself is far from becoming generalized and available to all Algerians.
Therefore, the time has come for Algeria to follow the path that other countries have taken, and to decide that in 2015 they will democratize these digital solutions that would solve a number of problems that the country faces.
E-payment can radically change the economic environment in Algeria by expanding the scope of what’s possible and supporting the economic diversification process, which the country hopes to do, as well as by supporting the strong growth that Algeria is currently witnessing.
Here are 10 practical examples of the benefits that will be brought forward by an improved e-payment system:
1. Improving the daily life of Algerians
Facilitating online transactions will allow for Algerians to pay their taxes and bills and buy train or bus tickets, or even shop online, saving them much wasted time.
2. Increasing the purchasing power of Algerians
Thanks to ecommerce, Algerians will be able to compare traders’ prices more easily, prompting the latter to reduce the prices of their products. E-payment development will also reduce costs incurred by traders, and in turn reduce the prices of products. Additionally, online spending and revenue management will allow Algerians to manage their wealth better, and therefore carry out more travel and property acquisition projects.
3. Achieving a simpler and more transparent tax system
Thanks to online payment, the government will be able to apply an online tax payment system with a high-tracking function, which will reduce tax fraud cases, facilitate tax collection, and improve trade flow assessment.
4. Increasing the number of startups and improving their quality
E-payment will give Algerian startups the possibility to hit global markets, noting that this strategy plays a very important role in their sustainability. It will also allow ecommerce startups to accelerate their growth and develop scalable business models.
5. Increasing exports
E-payment will allow entrepreneurs to sell their products and local expertize to foreign countries at a time when we are trying to achieve a commercial balance by increasing exports.
6. Promoting Algerian heritage
The cultural heritage is neglected because Algerians do not care about it. It is out of reach of both tourists and locals. Craftsmen are based in remote areas, away from the regions frequented by tourists and the majority of Algerians.
Artists and artisans dedicate a lot of their time and energy to preserve the heritage they inherited from their parents, and e-payment will give their work a greater value and allow them to market their products by targeting a broader market and focusing more on their craft.
7. Activating the tourism sector
Foreign tourists and Algerians alike will be able to organize their tourism trips in a simpler and easier way through online booking and by taking advantage of new types of tourism such as the Airbnb service.
8. Implementing more eco-friendly practices
E-payment will reduce the number of commercial publications, such as brochures and catalogs, and the number of customers’ visits to brick-and-mortar shops. The e-payment boom will also give a new life to used products, which would reduce pollution caused by overproduction.
9. Reducing the real estate problem in big cities
Some business activities can be entirely performed online, making it possible to dispense with some points of sale in the city, reducing thus the tension in the real estate sector, resulting in a greater availability of shops and bringing reasonable prices back.
10. Increasing job opportunities
The improvement of the e-payment sector will create more job opportunities in the sectors that will be affected by such improvements - tourism, export, crafts and e-commerce in particular (whether in terms of development of technological solutions, logistics, marketing, delivery, and after-sales service).
There is no doubt that e-payment will bring forward a wide range of improvements. Therefore, I urge the Algerian Central Bank, banks, other financial institutions, large corporations, the local press, and the civil society to all take action in order to develop the e-payment in Algeria.