Will PayFort Become MENA’s PayPal?

Running from June 24 to 26, ArabNet Digital Summit 2013, a three-day conference taking place in Dubai, UAE, brought together entrepreneurs, digital professionals and distinguished speakers to discuss the burgeoning web industry in the Middle East.

And, fitting for its scale, the event had no shortage of major announcements. However, it was the launch of PayFort, a direct competitor to eBay-owned global online payment platform PayPal, which may have garnered the most attention.

According to Omar Soudodi, the new service’s managing director, PayFort brings together “the most sophisticated and up-to-date fraud prevention and anti-money laundering technologies,” with the goal of “eliminating the risk buyers and sellers face during the online payment process.”

Soudodi said that PayFort is designed to address the need for simplified, secure payment options in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Arab Business reports.

But can PayFort compete against its established rival?

According to Soudodi, it already is. Prior to its launch, PayFort signed on big-name partners like American Express, cashU (of which PayFort is a spin-off), MasterCard and Visa. It also received support from global investment firms such as Naspers, which famously invested in Chinese Internet portal Tencent, and Tiger Capital, a firm that provides investor relations and corporate finance services.

Arabian Business noted that though Arabic is the fifth-most widely spoken language around the world, only around 20 percent of Arabic speakers are online. Still, there are promising figures that suggest now may be the right time for PayFort to enter the market.

For example, the media outlet noted that 40 percent of Arabic speaking Internet users are between 15 and 35 years old. Of these individuals, 80 percent are daily Internet users. And with this audience expected to remain online, the report suggests it could be potentially lucrative business target for the provider that is able to capture this market.

For more information, read the full report here.

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