30 Seconds On The Business Of… Electronic Payment Solutions

Gulf Business speaks to 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 for the society as a whole.

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.

According to MasterCard’s recent Cashless Journey Study, 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.