Fortumo's latest market report gives an overview of the mobile payments landscape of the Middle East and North Africa. It covers 10 countries where Fortumo has coverage. These markets are (by population): Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain.
MENA stands out in the mobile ecosystem due to a combination of high smartphone ownership rates across all markets coupled with significant spending on digital content. As an example, median revenue per user from carrier billing in United Arab Emirates ($6.4) from September 2018 was higher than in Switzerland or Netherlands. Also the MENA region is believed to be the driver of 5G development, being amongst the first in the world to launch commercial 5G networks.
At the same time, card-based payments are out of reach for most people in the region, which means that adopting locally available payment methods is one of the key factors for succeeding in MENA. According to SuperDataResearch it is in fact carrier billing that merchants tap into when looking for additional ways to grow: the payment method represents 14.9% of all revenue generated by digital gaming in the region, only being behind bank-based payments and e-wallets.
Beside the varying access to payment methods, the countries in the region are extremely diverse, both in economic and cultural terms. The population is relatively young and but the GNI differs 14 times between the lowest and highest earners. The need for localized content is also evident since Arabic is the main language in at least half of the given countries. Another example of a regional singularity is the 43.2% rise in mobile purchases during Ramadan.
This market report aims to give merchants a better understanding of the region: what the local mobile landscape looks like, how to localize pricing to match user income, which payment methods to select in order to increase the amount of paying users and which devices to target.
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