With the whole world going into lockdown and practicing social distancing, more and more businesses are going online and setting up online payments in response to changing consumer behaviour.

E-commerce has had a massive increase in popularity due to consumer purchasing trends in the GCC countries shifting towards e-commerce under current circumstances.

This increase in online purchasing can be seen within the operational changes implemented by e-commerce retail giant Souq.com, owned by Amazon. They have increased their operational capacity to ensure that all orders are fulfilled and delivered quickly while also prioritizing stocking and delivering items that are considered higher priorities for customers such as grocery, health, and personal care products.

Moreover, even though cash-on-delivery has traditionally been the preferred payment option for customers in the Middle East, the spread of the coronavirus has led to more and more customers turning towards online payments and contactless deliveries.

Some countries in the GCC, such as Saudi Arabia, have taken the step by rolling out nationwide laws during the COVID-19 crisis in order to adopt digital payments with social distancing precautions for a list of industries and business activities such as food delivery and groceries.

This is also followed by food delivery companies such as Delivery Hero with their subsidiaries Talabat and Hungerstation amongst others such as Deliveroo introducing contactless payments. Similarly, this is also being adopted under general business activities with Middle East e-commerce giant, Noon, making the complete shift to cashless deliveries only.

This change in consumer trends was also confirmed by Marcello Baricordi, General Manager for MENA of Visa, who said that their latest research shows that two-thirds of local consumers in UAE and KSA now prefer using cards over cash.

What does this mean for your business?

If you’re planning to go online now due to the impacts of the coronavirus, this means that online payment is also something that you need to consider strongly about.

Payment behaviour in the GCC is highly fragmented from country to country. If you’re selling anywhere else in the world, you only need to be able to accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or even Paypal. As long as you can accept these payment cards or methods, you are good to sell even globally.

These local payment card schemes are as follows:

Mada in Saudi Arabia

Formed by Saudi Payments, this local payment scheme for debit cards in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest-growing payment systems in the region with over 30 million Mada cards in circulation today and a couple of billion transactions that are routed through this system. Mada adoption in e-commerce has also led to nearly 70% of all online transactions in the Kingdom being routed through this local payment scheme since it was first enabled for e-commerce in mid-2018!

KNET in Kuwait

With a little over 6 times more KNET cards being issued in Kuwait compared to credit cards, it’s no surprise that this local payment scheme for debit cards makes up more than 85% of all transactions processed in Kuwait. A couple of billion transactions are routed yearly through this popular local payment method formed by the Shared Electronic Banking Services Company in Kuwait.

Benefit in Bahrain

In Bahrain, 60% of all transactions are routed through Benefit with 40% of the transactions being processed through Visa/Mastercard. As the local payment scheme for debit cards in Bahrain, Benefit has also rolled out BenefitPay, the national electronic wallet payment system, which is showing a fast-growing adoption by consumers in Bahrain with an increase of 1000% of transactions in March 2020 from its 300,000 registered users and over 6 million transactions reported in 2019.

NAPS (Qpay) in Qatar

This domestic payment network formed by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) for debit cards in Qatar handles over 70% of all online transactions through NAPS compared to payments using credit cards and is growing quickly in popularity with the consumer shift towards online payments.

OmanNet in Oman

Formed by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), this local payment method for debit cards in the Sultanate of Oman is used for about 70% of all the online transactions making it an important payment method to accept and have enabled on e-commerce websites and mobile apps for those selling in Oman.

Along with increasing trust in your online business, these familiar local payment methods and systems also relatively cost you less as a merchant per transaction in comparison to credit card acceptance for consumer purchases.

How can you accept all these payment methods on your payment gateway?

This depends on the payment gateway that you choose. This process could get complicated for businesses since most payment companies cannot offer all the localized payment methods available. If they do offer it, this could also take a lot of development work on your end to integrate with your website and mobile app since most payment companies depend on the integration tools provided by the local payment systems. This is a time consuming and complicated way to integrate with your website or mobile app since each local payment system has a stand-alone integration with various forms of technical payment flows.

At Tap Payments, this is one of the problems we are trying to solve by giving businesses the flexibility to enable all the relevant and preferred payment options they need easily with a single unified integration- leading to a seamless checkout and payment flow for your customers.

Provided that you fulfill all the necessary requirements for each payment method you want, you can easily enable them on your website or mobile application by integrating with our easy-to-integrate checkout library for websites and/or checkout SDKs for mobile apps. Based on the country that the customer is from, they will be able to easily select the payment method they want- even if it’s debit cards such as Mada or KNET or credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, or Amex.

If you’re curious about what our checkout library popup looks like, here you go!

As for businesses who are looking to have a completely native and custom checkout experience on their e-commerce channels, our integration API’s provide a standardized approach that allows developers to integrate directly to each payment system while maintaining a unified technical payment flow.

Tap Payments is also the only payment company that happens to be a financial institution or a Fintech (financial technology) company operating under the supervision of financial regulators and government bodies within the GCC, such as the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and the Central Bank of Bahrain amongst many others. Along with being actively involved in developing the Fintech ecosystem in the GCC, such as Fintech Saudi and Bahrain Fintech Bay, this also ensures that Tap Payments is properly regulated and can process all these payment methods securely.


Our payment experts can help your business unlock their growth potential and create the right payment strategy for businesses selling in the GCC and MENA region. Contact our team today through phone, email, or even the live chat available on our website for instant support!

This post is focused on businesses that are seeking to serve their customers within the GCC with the fast-growing trend of digital payments in 2020. Tap Payments offers its payment services to businesses that are interested in serving their customers in the GCC plus Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.