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How to choose the best online payment gateway for businesses in the MENA region?

The 7 factors you must consider when accepting online payments in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Khadeeja Narangoli
Khadeeja Narangoli

One of the positive changes that Covid bought is that it forced consumers across MENA to shift to online shopping and eCommerce. This is reflected within the 2020 Statista survey which shows that online shopping has become significantly more frequent in the following countries within the MENA region since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Tap Payments: Statista statistics of increase in online shopping post covid across MENA

As such, businesses around the region are quickly moving towards the digital sphere, setting up their eCommerce stores, and looking to integrate with an online payment gateway for their website or mobile app.

For those who aren’t familiar with the terminology:

A payment gateway is the technology that allows you to accept and process credit and debit card payments on your e-commerce store. Think of it as your online cash register!

It’s vital for online businesses to select the right payment gateway since this will not only help your business grow but will also ensure the security of your money. Choosing the right payment gateway can also help reduce security concerns that your customers may have and give them more confidence to purchase online.

Since we’ve already spoken about the importance of understanding the payment landscape within the GCC region and how to integrate it easily within your website, let’s look at some of the other factors you should consider when you’re thinking about accepting online payments for your business.

1. Ease of Setting Up

Look into how difficult it would be to integrate a payment gateway to your website or mobile app. If you’re just starting out and want to set up an online store quickly, the easiest way would be to create your website on internationally known eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WordPress or regionally based e-commerce platforms like Zid, Zyda, and many others.

A lot of payment gateways have plugins for easy integration with e-commerce platforms, so setting up a payment gateway can be as simple as inputting the access credentials on the plugin to enable access to the payment gateway connection and account with the payment company.

So, if your website is built on an e-commerce platform, the first thing you should do is to make sure that the payment companies you’re looking at have a plugin for that platform.

However, If you have a custom-built website or a mobile app, you can still have a fairly easy integration process if the payment company has various integration tools meeting your preferred checkout experience needs such as Web Libraries, Mobile SDKs, or APIs. These kits and integration tools make it easier for your developers or programmers to integrate and connect to your payment gateway so that it’s one less thing to worry about when setting up your online store.

2. Flexible Banking Options

When setting up a payment gateway in the MENA region, you need to make sure that the payment provider will be able to link it to the bank account of your choice because many of them might not. You may also need to have a separate contract with the bank of their choice causing you to be in constant communication with two parties for any inquiries in the future when it comes to your e-commerce financial operations.

Working alongside all banks within the GCC and the MENA region, Tap Payments is one of the only payment providers in the Middle East that handles settlements to any bank account of your choice within multiple countries without any additional contracts with the bank.

Unlike most other payment companies, Tap Payments is able to perform activities like financial clearing and settlements directly to bank accounts since it is a Fintech operating under financial regulatory supervision in multiple countries and regulatory jurisdictions. Having these necessary licenses is important to perform such financial activities in a secure, protected, and trusted way for your business.

Working with a payment provider that is properly regulated and can perform financial activities as permitted means that you as a business also have the flexibility to switch between banks and bank accounts easily, at any point, if you need to!

3. Payment Methods Available

As mentioned in our post about the payment landscape in the Middle East, when selling or expanding to the GCC region you need to consider the preferred payment methods of the countries you look to serve and the possibility of these payment methods being supported by the payment gateway.

According to a press release by Visa, 40% of consumers stated that allowing for a wider range of payment options would give them the confidence to shop online.

Ensure that the local payment methods of the countries that you operate in, such as Mada, KNET, and Benefit amongst others can be enabled as needed.

4. Online Security

When it comes to online payments, you always need to make sure that it is 100% secure for both yourself as the merchant and your customers.

While a typical MENA shopper uses their credit card to pay for online transactions with well-established eCommerce players, the same shopper will choose to pay cash on delivery when shopping with regional players.

This is mainly because of a lack of trust. One way to overcome this is by ensuring that you select a payment gateway with a robust security framework in place that reduces risk levels for merchants as well as protects the consumer's sensitive card details. Emphasizing these security features within the eCommerce platform will help motivate the customers to make the final leap to checkout.

As such, the payment gateway you choose must comply with payment and banking grade as well as PCI-DSS security levels.

PCI-DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard which is a system of standards put in place by the PCI Security Standards Council to uphold security when handling card data. This council was originally formed by American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard, and Visa Inc. in 2006, with the goal of enhancing global payment account data security.

At Tap, security is always our highest priority with various specially designed solutions to ensure that only risk-free transactions are processed and that your business is protected from all kinds of fraudulent activities.

5. Protection

You also need to ensure that the payment provider you choose can protect your business from possible disputes or chargeback claims that could arise in the future so that they can be resolved quickly without hurting your business and cash flows.

Since Tap Payments is connected to most of the banks in the MENA region, this is an important feature that we can provide because we can deal with the banks directly on your behalf and resolve these disputes quickly without any involvement from your end.

6. Support

Things can always go wrong but when it’s about your money, you need immediate support to have it resolved quickly for your peace of mind. This is why when looking for payment gateways and providers, you need to consider the level of support that they can give you as well.

When faced with an issue, you don’t want to be stuck waiting for a response by email or struggling to get ahold of their support number.

At Tap Payments, we understand the importance of immediate support. This is why, along with phone and email support, we also provide round-the-clock live chat support on our website and goCollect application.

7. Rates

You also need to make sure that you are aware of exactly how much you’ll be charged to avoid any nasty surprises in the future.

When using a payment gateway, the cost generally comes in 3 formats: set-up fees, monthly fees, and/or transaction fees.

To find the plan that’s most suitable for your business, consider the value and the volume of your sales per month. If the value of each transaction is generally quite high, you should look for payment gateways or price plans with lower transaction rates. If you have a seasonal business, you should look for payment gateways without a monthly fee so that you’re not charged for months that you’re inactive.

If you’re looking to find a price plan that’s suitable for your needs but doesn’t know where to start, you can contact our team on the live chat within our website and find out today!

You might not even need a payment gateway at all. There are different types of eCommerce models popular around the MENA region; one of them being social commerce. This is a subset of eCommerce that uses social media such as Instagram, WhatsApp or Facebook as the primary channel for marketing and sales. If your business belongs to this category, there may not be any need for you to consider creating a website with a payment gateway to just collect online payments.

There are other online payment options that you could consider instead such as a payment links and invoicing application like goCollect. Instead of going through the complicated process of creating a website and integrating with a payment gateway, you can just download the goCollect app to send payment links through any platform such as email, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and many more.

If you’re building a website or a mobile app, however, you’ll definitely need to choose an online payment gateway such as goSell for your eCommerce store. If that sounds like you, we hope that we were able to help you understand some of the factors that you need to consider to choose the right payment gateway for your business.

Our payment experts can help your business unlock its growth potential and create the right payment strategy for businesses selling online in the GCC and MENA regions. Contact our team today through phone, email, or even the live chat available on our website for instant support!

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Khadeeja Narangoli

Content Lead at Tap Payments