Middle East & Africa

In 2020, key economies in the Middle East and Africa were hit by a double shock, the pandemic and the resultant drop in oil prices. In Saudi Arabia, the state oil company Saudi Aramco saw a 44% drop in net income.
Crude exports fell by more than a million barrels a day at some points. This matters, because oil earnings account for 70% of export earning and 50% of GDP.

Shifting to West Africa, a similar story unfolded in Nigeria. Revenues from oil and gas exports fell by 46% in 2020. Again, this is hugely significant, because oil and gas account for 86% of all Nigeria’s export revenue. In 2020, Nigeria’s economy shrank by 2%.

The same happened in the UAE, with oil exports down 18% by the third quarter of 2020. In South Africa, which is heavily dependent on mineral rather than oil exports, the value of export earnings fell by 96% between the first and second quarters of 2020.

Looking at countries that aren’t dependent on a narrow range of commodities for their export earnings, Morocco’s GDP contracted by 7% in 2020 and Israel’s by 2.4%. In many countries, however, although the pandemic slowed the pace of economic growth, GDP never actually shrank and recession was avoided. This was the case in Egypt, Kenya, and Turkey.

By 2021, the economies of all the countries in this report were growing again. Growth rates vary from 2.5% in Nigeria to over 7% in Kenya. As with countries around the world, though, the wild card is the behaviour of the COVID-19 virus. At the time of writing, Kenya — for instance — has vaccinated just 2.1% of its population, and has
a population of 50 million.

As in other parts of the world, the nations of the Middle East and Africa were, as this report was being written, starting to see a rise in COVID-19 cases, following a drop in the spring of 2021. If this trend continues, and vaccination rates don’t accelerate, there is the potential not only for greater suffering but also for more economic dislocation and a delay to the recovery.

Payments and e-commerce report
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Middle East & Africa
E-commerce % of total retail 3.0%
E-commerce completed on a mobile device 53%
World
E-commerce % of total retail 20%
E-commerce completed on a mobile device 53%

E-commerce in Middle East & Africa

The e-commerce market

On the eve of the pandemic, the e-commerce market in the Middle East and Africa was worth US$55 billion
and was growing at a rate of 30% a year. The average online shopper in the region spent, as we went into
the pandemic, US$371 a year with e-commerce merchants.

As with other markets, e-commerce in Africa received a considerable boost in 2020. Figures for the whole of
the continent are hard to come by. But in Egypt, for instance, 27% said they were shopping more online during
the pandemic. The value of goods bought grew by up to 52%, indicating a shift in behaviour on the part of those who already have internet connections. In Nigeria the proportion of consumers shopping more online was 34%.
In Kenya, it was 33%.

In the Middle East, the UAE — according to the first figures to come out of the country since the crisis —
saw a 53% increase in e-commerce volumes. In Israel, the value of the e-commerce market increased by 36% in 2020, according to one study. In Saudi Arabia, 77% of consumers are shopping online more since the start of the pandemic

  • Card-based payments
  • Cash-based payments
  • Bank Transfer
  • Wallets
  • Other
[{"label":"Card-based payments","value":"47"},{"label":"Cash-based payments","value":"18"},{"label":"Bank Transfer","value":"17"},{"label":"Wallets","value":"14"},{"label":"Other","value":"4"}]

The payment landscape in Middle East & Africa

Local payment culture

Despite only 12% of the region’s people having a credit card, cards are used in 47% of the online transactions from this region. This seems to indicate a large unmet demand for e-commerce, which could be unlocked by sites able to give those who don’t have cards alternative ways to pay.

Cash is the next most popular means of payment, with a 18% share of online transactions. Bank transfers are used in 17% of all e-commerce purchases, e-wallets in 14%, and various local methods in the remaining 4%. The card market is split between Visa (37%), Mastercard (29%), American Express (1%), and various other and local card schemes (33%). 

E-commerce market size ($USD billion)
Middle East and Africa 55
World 4269
E-Commerce spending per capita ($USD)
Middle East and Africa 371
World 1080

Enabling and limiting factors

Internet penetration varies widely among the countries covered by this report. In Israel, for instance, it’s 88%; whereas in Morocco it’s just 74%. According to the International Telecoms Union (ITU), 74% of households in the urban centres of the Arab states have access to the Internet [17]. In rural areas, this falls to 38%. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the rate for urban areas is 60% and for rural 37%.

48% of adults in the Middle East and Africa have a bank account. But this figure masks significant variations between markets. In Egypt, for example, just 33% of the adult population has a bank account. In Saudi Arabia
it’s 93% and in Israel 72%. For merchants and other e-commerce actors, an understanding of the specific financial-market conditions in each country is essential.

Logistics capabilities also vary a great deal. The UAE, for instance, is 11th in the World Bank’s Logistical Performance Index, scoring higher than developed countries, such as France and Spain. Egypt and Kenya, on the other hand,
sit at 67 and 68 respectively. Although logistics are improving, particularly with the rise of ride-hailing, they may be a limiting factor in some markets.

Conclusion

Market conditions vary a great deal among the countries in this, very large, region. The good news is that all of the nations whose data is used in this report are growing again after a rocky 2020. Many of them have seen a significant increase in e-commerce volumes and uptake. For a merchant which is prepared to put effort into localisation, the markets in this region offer rich opportunities.

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Middle East & Africa

General Information

  • Population 1,688m
  • Population 15 + 1,302m
  • Online Population 752m
  • GDP ($US billion) 5,779bn USD
  • GDP per capita ($US) 3,423 USD
  • Card-based payments
  • Cash-based payments
  • Bank transfer
  • Wallets
  • Other
[{"label":"Card-based payments","value":"47"},{"label":"Cash-based payments","value":"18"},{"label":"Bank transfer","value":"17"},{"label":"Wallets","value":"14"},{"label":"Other","value":"4"}]
Banked population
  • Middle East & Africa 48%
  • World 67%
Internet penetration
  • Middle East & Africa 45%
  • World 62%
Credit card penetration
  • Middle East & Africa 12%
  • World 19%
Smartphone penetration
  • Middle East & Africa 65%
  • World 70%

Middle East & Africa

The E-Commerce Market

E-commerce % of total retail
  • Middle East & Africa 3.0%
  • World 20%
E-commerce completed on a mobile device
  • Middle East & Africa 53%
  • World 53%
  • E-commerce market size ($US billion) 55bn USD
  • E-commerce spending per capita ($US) 371 USD

The information on our Insights pages has been compiled by us in cooperation with Datamatics and Wright & Brown. The data shown is partially owned by us and partially owned by GlobalData. © 2021 by PPRO Financial Ltd. No data and information can be used for any further publication without the explicit approval of PPRO.

Middle East & Africa

Middle East & Africa payment methods

BitPay Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Hyperwallet Type Bank transfer, Gift card, Prepaid voucher Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High PayPal Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High PaysafeCard Type Prepaid voucher Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High Paysera Wallet Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High PayU Type Bank transfer Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 2 Market relevance High Skrill Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High Airtel Money Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Allied Wallet Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High UnionPay Type Local payment card Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High Apple Pay Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High BKM Express Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Boku Type Carrier billing Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High CMI Type Local payment card Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High DaoPay Type Carrier billing Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High Fawateer Type Buy Now, Pay Later Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Fawri Type Bank transfer Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Fawri+ Type Bank transfer Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Google Pay Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High klip Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High M-BIRR Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High M-Pesa Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Masterpass Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High Mobiamo Type Carrier billing Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High mobicred Type Instalments Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Orange Money Type Wallet Regions Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 1 Market relevance High Paga Wallet Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Paycell Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Razer Gold Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High Samsung Pay Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High SnapScan Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High SWIFT Type Bank transfer Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance High Tigo Pesa Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Troy Type Local payment card Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance High Verve Type Local payment card Regions Middle East & Africa WebMoney Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 1 Market relevance High 7-Eleven Type Cash Regions Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America Market relevance Medium Amanty Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium AstroPay Type Prepaid voucher Regions Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, South & Central America + 1 Market relevance Medium CASHU Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium eWallet Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium Fawry Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium FNB Cell Pay Point Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium Isracard Type Local payment card Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium JumiaPay Type Bank transfer Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium KongaPay Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium MBME Type Cash Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium MobiCash Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium MTN Mobile Money Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium OneCard Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium PesaLink Type Bank transfer Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium SADAD Type Bank transfer, Buy Now, Pay Later Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Market relevance Medium SiD Instant EFT Type Bank transfer Regions Middle East & Africa Market relevance Medium Wallet One Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 2 Market relevance Medium BankIT Type Bank transfer Regions Middle East & Africa BBVA Type Bank transfer Regions Middle East & Africa, North America, South & Central America + 1 BeeCard Type Cash, Prepaid voucher Regions Middle East & Africa BenefitPay Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Binga Type Cash Regions Middle East & Africa Boloro Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Bonuspay Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Cordial Type Prepaid card Regions Middle East & Africa e-dirham Type Local payment card Regions Middle East & Africa EcoCash Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa EzyPesa Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa fastPay Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa G2A Pay Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Garanti BBVA Mobile Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa GPay Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa HelloCash Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa iPara Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa İşbank Maximum Mobile Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa M-paisa Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Mercury Type Local payment card Regions Middle East & Africa Moov Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa NETELLER Type Wallet Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3 Nol Type Local payment card Regions Middle East & Africa payD Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa PocketMoni Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa ReadyCash Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Slydepay Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Tigo Cash Type Wallet Regions Middle East & Africa Splitit Type Instalments Regions Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & the CIS, Middle East & Africa + 3