Whether online or in store, every retailer needs a robust, secure, and reliable payment gateway – so that customers can pay, and their business can trade. A payment gateway is a secure means of connecting your business bank account to your customers via an e-commerce platform.
The global pandemic was a catalyst for payment gateway providers as more customers turned to online shopping. And a spike in online sales prompted increasing demand for innovative payment solutions from fintech companies.
So if you’re a retailer serving the UAE, what are your options in terms of payment gateway providers? And by the same token, if you’re a fintech startup in the MENA region, which top payment companies are competing for the same merchants?
Let’s take a closer look at the market for payment gateways in the UAE.
Towards a cashless Dubai
Historically, the UAE has a strong market for physical retail. But in 2020, the tide began to turn with 34% of shoppers in the region reporting they were making more frequent online purchases. And it doesn’t end there.
Due to a number of readiness factors, the stage is set for continued growth of online payment gateways. Especially when you consider initiatives such as the Dubai government’s ‘Cashless Dubai Project’ which encourages consumers to make use of smart payment methods in all of their transactions.
In addition, one of the six objectives of the wider Smart Dubai strategy is to deliver a ‘digital, lean, and connected government’ which is both ‘paperless’ and ‘cashless’. In fact, since 2020 the Cashless Dubai Working Group has been working alongside other government entities to create a viable roadmap towards becoming a cashless society.
Before we take a look at the key players, what are the business benefits of the cashless movement?
The benefits of going cashless
During the last decade, online payments and e-commerce spending has continued to grow globally. Between 2018 and 2022, sales in the UAE increased by an average of 23% per year. Alongside retail, government services and education accounted for nearly 40% of e-commerce during a similar time period.
As pace gathers towards a cashless society, increasing volume of online spending yields a number of government, business, and consumer benefits as shown in the Dubai government’s Cashless Framework Report, not least the ease of monitoring and the potential for more powerful data-driven insights.
Here are just some of the other benefits:
- ● For the Dubai government, the cashless movement provides clear cost-savings, from recapturing the grey economy to reducing crime and the cost of criminal justice.
● Businesses can also reap the rewards of the cost-savings to be had from encouraging cashless transactions, including more efficient payment processing and labour savings.
● These advantages are also passed onto citizens, who gain better oversight over their budget and expenses, save time doing transactions, and create more data for their credit profiles.
There are a number of Dubai and UAE-based payment gateway providers to choose from. Here’s a brief guide to the most popular:
Available as a fully customised online payment solution and a white-label payment gateway solution, which businesses can effectively brand in their own colours, PayCaps offers an easily automated and streamlined payment gateway. Developed by an experienced in-house team, PayCaps is designed to support SMEs in the Middle East with safer, faster, and more user-friendly ways to pay. Its ease of integration, automated features, and simple pricing make it an appealing choice for businesses looking to get up and running quickly with little or no maintenance post-integration.
Established in 2002, by Maktoob.com, CASHU is a long-established payment gateway, serving over 2 million customers. One of the first and largest solutions in the MENA region, CASHU is renowned for its safety and security, making it a tried, tested, and trusted choice of payment gateway. Its sophisticated fraud prevention technology, and global reach of over 7,000 online merchants, make it an ideal choice for businesses looking to access millions of potential buyers within the MENA region. Their company mission is closely aligned with the Dubai government’s roadmap for a cashless society.
Joining the dots in the e-commerce ecosystem, Telr offers a feature-laden and secure online platform for accepting payments – connecting the world’s most popular payment networks to e-commerce sites around the world. Formerly known as ‘Innovative Payments’, Telr’s payment gateway is optimised across multiple devices, and enables integration of the payment form into existing websites. Telr is a good fit for businesses without Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) because their hosted payment gateway is Level 1 certified, so that merchants don’t have to be.
Award-winning payment gateway PayTabs began life as a sketch on the back of a coffee shop napkin in 2015. An early player in the fintech market, the company aims to offer next-door service alongside a global outlook. Providing a customisable, one-stop shop for startups, web stores, and other online enterprises to manage payment solutions, PayTabs offers merchants a secure payment gateway which can be easily integrated into e-commerce sites.
Though not technically a local company, global payments platform, Stripe, has had a presence in the UAE since April 2021. Based in Dubai Internet City, the new office marks the company’s first foray into the Middle East – giving businesses looking for a way into the UAE market a much-needed payment foothold, and allowing local companies to accept online payments, make payouts, mitigate fraud, and expand globally.
As much an e-commerce platform as a payment gateway, Zbooni burst onto the MENA fintech scene in 2016; providing businesses with the tools needed to capture and track orders, accept payments, and sell more. The feather in its cap? ‘Personalised Commerce’ – which essentially means smaller businesses can benefit from its bespoke payment services.
Final thoughts on payment gateways
Over the last few years, global events have accelerated online sales across the world, and significantly in the UAE, where physical retail has been traditionally strong.
With government-backed initiatives like Cashless Dubai, there is a strong impetus for tech-savvy entrepreneurs and startups to provide secure payment gateways to a growing number of online businesses in the region.
As we’ve seen, moving towards a cashless society has benefits for governments, businesses, and consumers alike, giving them better oversight, more accurate spending data, and helping them find opportunities to become more cost-effective, streamlined and efficient.
We’ve looked at six popular providers in the UAE, but there is an array of available payment gateways on the market and if you’re a retailer, it’s worth doing your research to find the best fit for your business.
For more information on payment gateways, Read our article UAE online payment gateway solutions explained.