On the back of Qatar’s thriving e-commerce market, currently estimated at QR2bn, more and more SMEs in the country are now shifting towards online payment transactions. The faster and more convenient payment methods are proving fruitful for these small businesses.
As of now, several products from financial institutions and service companies which offer electronic payment solutions to entrepreneurs abound in the Qatari market. For customers, online payment means cheaper price for a product or service, and a faster and more convenient transaction than writing, posting, and reconciling cheques. Merchants, on the other hand, enjoy the advantages of having faster and easier tracking of payments, fund access, cash management, and are able to collect payments from a wider range of audience.
Doha Bank, one of the financial institutions supporting SMEs in Qatar, has witnessed an increase of 15-25 percent in the number of merchants shifting to its electronic payment system, said Hussain Mohammad Hasan, eCommerce Specialist at Doha Bank.
The bank started its online payment gateway programme in 2008 with only 40 merchants. Today, the programme has reached 450 merchants, Hasan said while talking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the e-commerce workshop hosted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) yesterday.
“They were initially hesitant to apply to the online payment system. They preferred to receive cash payments, collecting by cheques, and point of sale machines by physical cards. But when we gave them the solution, they started to realise how easy it is and how it saves cost and manpower,” he added.
MaktApp, which is currently housed at the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), is also seeing a growing demand for online payment features in the market. The company, which has won the QITCOM prize for best online solution and best IT solution in Qatar, is the first cloud solution of its kind in the Middle East to provide business management services to SMEs in Qatar.
The company has also started Fatora, a platform SMEs can use to send invoices to their clients through the internet and get payments online. In less than 10 months, Fatora has processed over QR5m of online payments for SMEs in Qatar. About 2,300 merchants in Qatar and outside the country use Fatora to manage their online payment systems. Between 200 and 300 of the merchants are from Qatar, said MaktApp’s Co-Founder and CMO Muhammad Nabil.
He added: “People want to start their business, and they want to start with the least amount of investment as possible. And cloud-based is the way to go. Downloading software is going to expire very soon. Our system is cloud-based, so they don’t have to install it which saves time, and it’s easier to access. Also, it’s easy to add features in a cloud solution. It’s just a click away to expanding your business to another country”.
The MoTC is currently on a mission to transform SMEs in Qatar digitally. Its Digital Transformation of SMEs programme targets to reach 5,000 SMEs by year-end. According to the study released by the Qatar’s ICT Landscape in 2016, about 64 percent of local businesses are not achieving their full potential because they lack web presence, an e-commerce platform, and productivity-enhancing cloud services to take the lead or have global reach.