Gulf Business - - GCC TODAY - RAGHU MAL­HO­TRA di­vi­sion pres­i­dent, Mid­dle East and North Africa, MasterCard

How preva­lent are elec­tronic pay­ment so­lu­tions in the Mid­dle East?

In this part of the world, only 10 per cent of pay­ments are elec­tronic, while 90 per cent are still made by cash or cheques. There are a num­ber of ad­van­tages as­so­ci­ated with hav­ing a cash-lite econ­omy in­clud­ing in­creased eco­nomic growth and greater fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion. This rep­re­sents sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ties for the growth of elec­tronic pay­ments in the Mid­dle East.

Which sec­tors can best lever­age this op­tion?

Elec­tronic pay­ment so­lu­tions of­fer nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits that are not limited to any one sec­tor, in­dus­try or cus­tomer group. Ad­van­tages in­clude more con­ve­nience for con­sumers, bet­ter ef­fi­cien­cies for gov­ern­ments, higher pro­duc­tiv­ity for businesses, and greater fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion.

One of the big­gest con­cerns around the e-pay­ment in­dus­try is se­cu­rity. How can this be ad­dressed?

At MasterCard, we col­lab­o­rate with all mem­bers of the pay­ment value chain to cre­ate se­cu­rity so­lu­tions that help mon­i­tor, de­tect and fight fraud at ev­ery step of the trans­ac­tion cy­cle. Some of the tools we use in­clude a tam­per-ev­i­dent sig­na­ture panel, the use of three-di­men­sional holo­grams and ad­vanced fraud preven­tion and de­tec­tion tech­nol­ogy.

Card­hold­ers can also proac­tively mon­i­tor their ac­counts and re­port any sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions to the is­suer, as well as flag if their card is lost or stolen.

How quickly do you see re­gional economies be­com­ing cash­less com­mu­ni­ties?

The ben­e­fits of cre­at­ing a cash­less so­ci­ety are nu­mer­ous – mul­ti­ple stud­ies from around the world have proven that cash can cost gov­ern­ments about 1.5 per cent of their coun­try’s GDP just to print, se­cure and trans­port.

Most coun­tries in the Mid­dle East are just be­gin­ning their shift away from cash.

In some coun­tries, a lack of pay­ments in­fra­struc­ture has meant that even large pay­ments needed to be done with cash. That said, in cer­tain mar­kets – in­clud­ing the UAE – the in­tro­duc­tion of in­no­va­tive pay­ment so­lu­tions and key ini­tia­tives un­der­taken by the govern­ment are help­ing to spur change.

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