The e-commerce sector is poised for solid growth with about 48 percent of GCC residents stating that they prefer to shop online, but payment security is still a concern for majority of them, according to a new survey.
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The recent YouGov survey was commissioned by Seamless Middle East 2017 – the region’s most extensive technology and solution exhibition for the payments, e-commerce and retail industry.
The survey revealed that about 33 percent of respondents believed that online shopping was just as safe as offline shopping.
The Arab Federation for e-Commerce (AFEC) revealed last month that the region’s current share of the e-commerce market only represents one percent of the global market; however, the survey results highlight the increasing opportunity for e-commerce in the region.
"The existing appetite for online shopping in the Middle East poses a promising opportunity for international and regional investors in the e-commerce sector," remarked Dr Ali Al Khouri, First deputy chairman of the Arab E-commerce Union, and chairman for the Supreme Committee.
"The Arab Federation of e-commerce will play a central role in supporting and advising the public and private sectors in the Arab states to ensure continuous growth and further development of e-commerce in the region, as we strive to capture a fair share of the global digital industry," he added.
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Amna Lootah, the assistant director general, Finance and Commercial at Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (Dafza), said: "At Dafza, we provide vibrant support to businesses across all sectors operating within the Freezone, including the necessary support system for the e-commerce sector, which is now booming due to the growing popularity of online shopping in Dubai, the UAE, the entire region, and the rest of the world."
"This also complements the Dubai Plan 2021 to become a leading smart city and to diversify the economy. We will continuously work to contribute to the local sector’s strength to ensure that it keeps pace with the ever-evolving international developments and trends," she added.
Despite the willingness of GCC residents to fully embrace e-commerce, 34 percent of survey respondents claimed that a lack of confidence in payment security deters them from shopping online.
In Bahrain, 34 percent respondents still feel that offline shopping is more secure, with only 30 percent considering online shopping equally as safe.
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Commenting on the survey results, Eric Claudel, senior VP Banking & Payment Solutions for the CISMEA region at Gemalto, a leader in digital technology said: "The current and projected growth of e-commerce in the region has facilitated and encouraged accelerated development of digital payment experiences."
"The demand for optimized payments experience – in terms of speed, convenience and multi-channel accessibility but most importantly in terms of security – is growing at a fast pace. The key to ensuring customer satisfaction is delivering a seamless experience through secure, frictionless and innovative payment solutions," he added.
Joseph Ridley, the general manager of Seamless Middle East at Terrapinn, said: "E-commerce is a hot topic globally and key players in the industry are showing increased interest in the Middle East – the Souq.com acquisition by Amazon is a prime example."
"Seamless Middle East provides a platform for e-commerce, payments and retail industry professionals to explore the potential of the market through knowledge sharing, as well as showcasing new products and technologies to key stakeholders within the region," he added.
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