E-commerce deals to grow 15% in Mideast

E-commerce transactions in the Middle East are expected to grow more than 15 per cent in 2010, driven by infrastructural development, strong government focus on online services, and rapid internet penetration.

The region posted the world's highest internet usage growth for the 2000-2009 period at 1,648.2 per cent and is home to more than 60 million internet users and over 80 million mobile phone users, making it a huge market for online and mobile commercial transactions. However, Saudi Arabia-based online payments solutions provider OneCard notes that several issues have to be addressed to maximise the potential of electronic commerce and payments, such as the lack of region-wide laws covering the sector and growing security threats as a result of the Middle East's expanding internet population.

"There are definitely a lot of growth opportunities in regional e-commerce, especially in major free market economies such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The region has a young, tech-savvy middle income group who are already patronising e-commerce as a more convenient transaction method. However, there are several obstacles to the smooth growth of this sector as well, so it is important to constantly monitor market trends, invest more in infrastructure, encourage policy development and create high-quality services," said Muhannad Ebwini, General Manager, OneCard.

Travel and gaming have emerged as the region's top two e-commerce segments. Travel has been one of the largest and most competitive online sectors for the past three years, especially as many low-cost airlines have been deploying advanced e-ticketing systems to gain more market share from major carriers.

 

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