With over 200 million people across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan shifting primarily to eCommerce since the start of the pandemic, Checkout.com has posted record-breaking payment processing growth this year—in addition to expanding its geographic, headcount and acquiring footprint across the region.
According to founder and CEO Guillaume Pousaz, the company posted almost a 75% year-over-year increase in payment processing volumes for the region in December this year—driven primarily by the recent surge in demand for goods and services seen by the multiple local and international merchants that Checkout.com serves.
“It has been a step-change year for us across the MENA region, all driven by the partnerships we’ve put in place with our merchants over the past decade,” said Pousaz. “We’ve opened offices in KSA and Pakistan, expanded our regional team to 90 people, and have our sights set on even broader expansion—including upgrading our office in Dubai. And we remain the only payments provider with an extensive working knowledge of the complexity across the region, rooted in a decade’s worth of data and insights here.”
Checkout.com has seen marked success with its land-and-expand strategy to grow share-of-wallet within its current merchants—and it has equally seen the growth of net-new merchant accounts as well. It also supports some of the region’s key players—Careem and Al Shaya, for example—and this year has won business from some of the largest enterprises like Carrefour, Extra, Instashop and Vox Cinemas (among many others).
The MENA region is also outpacing larger regions (such as Europe and APAC) with its adoption of in-app social shopping and buy-now-pay-later. Today, over 75% of consumers in the region report using some form of fintech app, with 81% feeling they benefit directly from the growing fintech sector. As a result, in April this year Checkout.com led the $110m Series A investment in one of the region’s fastest-growing buy-now-pay-later startups, Tamara.
From a regional expansion perspective, while Checkout.com continued to see strength in the UAE, it also increased its acquiring footprint in nine different countries across MENA—cementing its position as the preferred partner unlocking the region for enterprise merchants.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in appetite from merchants to cover multiple target markets using a single payments platform—and to have the flexibility to offer multiple local currency and alternative payment methods at the same time,” said Mo Yusuf, regional manager for MENA at Checkout.com.
“We’ve continued to lead the local market here—as the first to offer Apple Pay to merchants in Bahrain and Qatar, and the only provider in the market with comprehensive payment coverage of global credit and debit cards, digital wallets and popular local payment methods such as mada, QPay, KNET and OmanNet.”
The company has continued to partner with industry bodies and regulators to optimize payment rails even further. It joined the MENA Fintech Association, to track merchant and consumer trends closely through its market-wide survey work, and published its latest annual report on the state of eCommerce and digital payments in the region.
“Through this activity, our team has been able to share insight and experience for the good of the regional technology landscape,” added Yusuf. “We have advocated on topics from digital payments and eCommerce to skills and talent, working in partnership with those policymakers and regulators who are keen to grow the MENA fintech market.”
In addition to consistently being selected for its reliable cross-border payments, dedicated personalized support and deep local expertise, Checkout.com was also ranked highest for customer satisfaction among payment processing vendors in the MENA region this year.
- OSN is the biggest pay-TV operator in MENA. Over 1.4 million people across 26 markets subscribe to its services on TV, mobile, tablet and PC. “Checkout.com had an excellent reputation locally from working with many large merchants in MENA. OSN’s payment approval rate has increased by 5% since working with Checkout.com in 2018. This is a significant uplift in performance and has made a notable contribution to our bottom line.”—Richard Farrell, Deputy Chief Financial Officer at OSN.
- Alshaya is a world-leading franchiser. It supports over 90 international brands—including Starbucks, H&M, The Body Shop and Victoria’s Secret—to expand its footprint across MENA. “Checkout.com’s deep expertise across MENA stood out from the crowd. It has teams on the ground that know the market and where customer demand is. That’s an attribute that other global payment providers just don’t have.”—Red Bamba, Alshaya’s Senior Manager for Digital Payments.
- From its base in Dubai, Careem has expanded to 100 cities in 15 countries in less than a decade, offering taxis, hire cars, takeaways, shopping and even bike-sharing schemes to customers. “There are many layers of complexity. But if you have a payments partner like Checkout.com, you’re able to create a competitive advantage. We work with a lot of suppliers, but only a few are true partners. Checkout.com is one of our growth partners that play a role in allowing us to retain and attract customers.”—Hassan Mahbub, Head of Strategy, Careem Pay.
 Digital Transformation in MENA and Pakistan: Why Payments are key to unlocking more growth and opportunity, Sept 2021
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