Platforms Drive Adoption of Subscription Commerce in MEA

From a payments perspective, the continued rise of the subscription-based revenue model has been one of the most interesting developments in post-pandemic global commerce.

Once reserved for utilities and bills, the concept of monthly recurring payments has gained traction in the digital services market, as seen in the rapid emergence of media streaming platforms like Netflix and Spotify.

And in more recent years, the payment model has further diversified, with repeat billing now applied to a whole range of eCommerce transactions.

In Europe and the United States, for example, the “Subscription Commerce Tracker,” a PYMNTS collaboration with Vindicia, tracked how companies like RocksBox, a jewelry rental subscription platform, are continuously innovating to attract and retain customers.

But elsewhere, subscription commerce has yet to take off to the same extent.

As Sherif Aziz, co-founder of recurring revenue management platform SubsBase, told PYMNTS, the market is in the early stages in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), where an increasing number of startups are embracing the model at the same time as consumer behavior is evolving to be more accepting of recurring payments.

That gives the Cairo-based firm a first-mover advantage in the space, he said, and one that provides an opportunity to become a catalyst in that environment and support businesses in the region’s nascent ecosystem.

Mohamed Farag, the startup’s co-founder, added that across MEA, there has been a lack of awareness about solutions that can help businesses manage subscriptions, and it’s mainly why the company is sounding the alarm on the SubsBase “no-code” solution that “can get you up and running [in no time].”

Subscription Management Made Easy

Farag’s emphasis on ease-of-use runs throughout SubsBase’s technology. He said the company has designed its integration scripts in a user-friendly way and has built plugins for WordPress and other content management systems that allow businesses to easily set up subscription payments without the need for a high degree of technical know-how.

By creating solutions that can be used for the most predictable of repeat subscription models all the way up to what Farag called “much more sophisticated use cases,” SubsBase demonstrates how diverse the recurring payments landscape can be.

As Aziz noted, “we [serve] a very healthy mix [of clients] in different industries, [including] quite a few [Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)] companies with the traditional subscription model. But we’re also working with a lot of other types of recurring revenue companies, such as lenders and buy now, pay later [(BNPL)] companies.”

On the challenges the firm faces, Aziz pointed to the segmentation of payment channels across MEA markets.

“You have a lot of our customers using different types of payments, and they need to provide all of these options to the customer base and their consumer base… It becomes a very big headache when it comes to accepting these payments.”

Read also: PayTabs Egypt, Waffarha Partner on Digital Payments for Online Shopping

Going forward, Farag added that the company intends to use some of the $2.4 million it raised in seed funding to integrate more payment methods on the platform. The move is expected to help merchants overcome some of the payment fragmentation that is characteristic of the MEA landscape and will further boost the region’s emerging subscription commerce scene.

The company also has plans to expand its offering with features sought after by subscription businesses in the region, including invoicing and data tools to help merchants optimize their recurring payment revenues.

See also: How to Avoid Becoming a Consumer’s Unwanted Subscription

Finally, to increase awareness, building out a “content machine” that will create podcasts and other educational resources to support the broader ecosystem will also be at top of the list, Aziz said.

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