This report appeared in the print edition of the Daily Star newspaper on December 07th 2018.
Digital payments are surely but steadily gaining traction in Lebanon and the MENA region. This is evidenced by the growing number of businesses establishing online presence and/or businesses listing their products on a marketplace’s online shelves. The convenience and the competitive prices listed online are making online purchases more appealing. The latest survey by Arabnet on the e-commerce ecosystem in the MENA region showed that more than 65% of users are repeat users.
Despite gaining appeal, shoppers are still wary of online payments. According to Arabnet, 75% of sales transactions are cash on delivery in the MENA region. The preference towards Cash on Delivery is a trend often cited by Lebanese e-commerce businesses and explained by consumers’ hesitance to share credit card information with online retailers. On this point, it is worth mentioning that payment gateways and online merchants are not allowed to store card information as it is strictly against the rules of the card schemes Visa and Mastercard. Usually, if the merchant is not the provider of the payment gateway, upon payment, the consumer is redirected to a separate page on which he shares his credit card information, which prevents the merchant from accessing the card information and let alone storing it. If the merchant is the same as the payment gateway provider, the possibility of storing the information becomes more likely, but remains illegal and heavily penalized if detected.
Hesitancy to make online payments does not mean that shoppers are not using their credit or debit cards. Many online merchants are providing their clients with the possibility of paying upon delivery through an on-site POS machine. In fact, the appetite for credit and debit cards is on the rise as shown by figures from the Central Bank. According to the Central Bank of Lebanon, the outstanding number of payment cards (credit cards debit cards, charge cards and prepaid cards) stood at 2.69 million in June 2018 up by 5% from the same period last year.
For the full report, click on the link below:
Better Understanding of How You Pay Online