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MENA countries have the opportunity to double or in some cases triple adoption of digital payments over the coming years. Digital technology is rapidly changing the nature of social interactions and commerce. Consumer expectations are higher than ever; social media applications, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have created a new norm in which consumers expect services to be instant, convenient, readily available, and chap or even free.
Similarly, digital retailers, such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Souq.com continue to bridge the divide between physical goods and digital services, creating more seamless user experiences for purchasing goods and services through digital interactions. However, despite the rapidly evolving consumer landscape, digital payments adoption remains relatively low in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, due in large part to the prevalence of outdated retail payments infrastructure and regulations, as well as to the lack of viable digital wallet solutions that effectively incentivize the broad ecosystem to displace cash in favor of digital payments.
This viewpoint provides our perspectives on the actions that MENA central and commercial banks should undertake to materially increase the adoption of digital payments and effectively foster the creation of an inclusive digital economy. We start with a view on the need for modern retail payments infrastructure and new digital payments regulations, then examine the relevant of digital wallets in driving adoption, before concluding with recommended actions for central and commercial Banks alike to ensure a successful journey toward digital payments adoption in MENA countries.
This viewpoint provides our perspectives on the actions that MENA central and commercial banks should undertake to materially increase the adoption of digital payments and effectively foster the creation of an inclusive digital economy.