PayPal, the online transaction company based in the United States, is setting its focus on mobile transactions for the Middle East in a bid to drive growth.
The company, which has more than 100 million accounts worldwide, has yet to fully establish its presence in the region because of an underdeveloped financial regulatory and internet environment. Currently users in the UAE can sign up to PayPal only with a US dollar-denominated account.
"The full suite of PayPal services is not yet available. We are working hard to localise our products as much as possible," said Stanley Wachs,the director of strategy and business development for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The company is establishing its focus on the UAE initially and eventually expanding to the wider GCC region and Morocco. At present it has a dedicated business team in Paris serving the Middle East, but Mr Wachs has hinted at a local office opening in the future.
"We categorise the Middle East as a fast-growing region and one where future opportunities are strong," said Mr Wachs. "[The growth] is being driven by the development of e-commerce, and the increase of usage and penetration of the internet, smartphones and tablets."
Currently, mobile transactions account for 10 per cent of all of PayPal's activities, with "triple digit growth" expected for the Middle East alone.
"We are really putting mobile first in terms of leadership and innovation and mobile is key in this region over the next few years," added Mr Wachs.
An ICT survey conducted by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority last year revealed that just 5 per cent of UAE businesses offered online sales transactions and only 11 per cent of local businesses made online purchases.
PayPal is working to increase its merchant base across the region.
"As more businesses and merchants set up online PayPal acceptance, it will drive consumer adoption. On average there is a 30 per cent conversion lift from browsers to buyers with PayPal mobile payment solutions" said Mr Wachs.