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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - RIYADH — Over 20,000 businesses were enabled for e-commerce using Tap’s online payment services since the start of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Tap Payments co-founder and CEO Ali Abulhasan, during a virtual roundtable hosted by The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf Secretariat General (GCC) on the opportunities, challenges and role of Fintechs in the Arabian Gulf region during the COVID-19 crisis.
“At Tap Payments, we have simplified the process of digital payment acceptance across the GCC countries so that a customer in Bahrain can buy products from an Oman-based merchant using a widely-used Bahrain-issued payment method, or a business in Saudi can collect payments for their services from a Kuwait-based client using a widely-used Kuwaiti-issued payment method; thus facilitating greater cross-border e-commerce among Gulf member countries,” said Abulhasan during the webinar.
“Our role at Tap has evolved from a payment service provider to a financial partner, enabling merchants to easily join the digital economy,” he added.
“Saudi Arabia is taking the lead in the drive towards a digital economy and not only because of its size as a country,” said Abulhasan, “but also due to its national initiatives such as the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP) that has identified the key goals of paving the path towards the digital transformation of the financial sector in the country as part of Vision 2030.”
The roundtable discussion was moderated by the Head of Fintech at the Central Bank of Oman, Firas Al-Lawati. Panelists included Head of Fintech and Innovation at the Central Bank of Bahrain, Ms. Yasmeen Al-Sharaf; Abu Dhabi Global Market Fintech Committee Member, Mohammad Shalloh; CEO of Thawani, Majid Al-Ameri; and CEO of Tap Payments, Ali Abulhasan.
The panelists discussed how the pandemic accelerated the evolution of doing business online in the region. Adding to the discussion, Abulhasan said, “COVID-19 is pushing the economy towards an accelerated digital transformation. The digital economy has placed new pressures on the traditional banking system and has created opportunities for companies like ours to enter the market as an enabler, to complement the role banks play in the financial system.”
Established in 2014, Tap Payments is the leading payment technology company in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), servicing over 50,000 startups and SMEs across nine countries with their various products for businesses of all sizes to start accepting or collecting payments digitally and easily. Tap Payments operates in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
Abulhasan also highlighted the need to evolve legislation to regulate online payments within each regulatory geography and cross-borders as well, stating: “What the COVID-19 crisis has shown us is that customers are ready to go online but merchants are being held back, partly because the infrastructure is not there yet, it’s complex and fragmented.
“Regulators within the GCC have taken notice of the need for new legislation to enable Fintechs to integrate with the banking system, and countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait have taken the steps to roll out payment regulations in order for the region’s digital ecosystem to grow and flourish. This is similarly being noticed amongst other countries in the region.”
“The silver lining of the global pandemic is that COVID-19 has caused the quickest acceleration of digital transformation to date, bringing the region years forward. This has pushed businesses to go online and placed motivated traditional banks to collaborate with, and encourage fintechs, such as Tap Payments, in providing innovative solutions to aid this transformation. As such, the digital future of the GCC looks promising with fintechs and e-commerce paving the way,” said Abulhasan. — SG
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