Amazon strengthens fintech position, rolls out payment services for MENA businesses

E-commerce giant Amazon announced on Monday the launch of its fintech arm Amazon Payment Services to cater to businesses in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) market, in a move that could strengthen its position in the digital payments space.

The debut of the new platform comes three years after the company took over Payfort International as part of the Souq Group acquisition in 2017.

“As of today, Payfort is Amazon Payment Services,” the company said in a statement.

The offering promises to provide secure and easy-to-use online payment services, enabling merchants to accept digital payments using both global and local payment methods, as well as offer instalments to customers and monitor payment performance round the clock.

“Today’s launch marks another key milestone in Amazon’s promise to build the future of digital payments in the region, empowering businesses to provide user-friendly payment experience for their end-users,” said Omar Soudodi, managing director of Amazon Payment Services.

“We listened to businesses across a broad range of industries to continue improving our offering. Amazon Payment Services is a natural next step in our journey, focusing on four fundamental pillars of trust, convenience, selection and pricing, underpinned by a best-in-class experience focused on reliability scale and operational excellence,” he said.

The coronavirus outbreak has created opportunities for both the e-commerce and fintech firms to expand their businesses, as consumer purchases shifted online. Within the Middle East region, there has been a major change on shopping or spending behaviour, prompting companies to accelerate their digitalisation strategies.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the acceptance of digital business models in a region that has a very strong tradition of in person, relationship-based service provision,” noted KPMG in a report, citing that traditional organisations like banks are increasingly forging alliances and partnerships with fintech firms to accelerate their “digital journey”.

“The fintech market in the Middle East is expected to expand and diversify for the foreseeable future, key jurisdictions all investing in fintech ecosystems. As fintech hubs slowly mature, the region will likely see increasing investment as early-stage fintechs grow,” it added.

Amazon said it has partnered with major banks in the region, RAKBANKFirst Abu Dhabi BankMashreqThe Saudi British BankAl Rajhi BankRiyad Bank and National Commercial Bank to support its payment services.

Its partners also include local card schemes such as MADA and Meeza, and international card schemes such as Visa and MasterCard.

With the new platform, Soudodi said merchants can now set up accounts to start accepting payments online, regardless of their size or the nature of their business.

“Amazon Payment Services mechanisms include simple-to-understand descriptions of services and their impact on a business, demonstrations of the end-customer experience, in addition to the ability to provide feedback proactively, alongside full secure transparency into pricing,” Soudodi said.




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