Contactless payments create opportunities for retailers in the Middle East and Africa


A payment revolution is underway among retailers in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). In 2021, Mastercard reported that more than 85% of consumers in the MEA region tried new payment methods, including mobile wallets and devices that enable payments. In an ever-changing retail landscape, digital payments are not only a nice-to-have, but a necessity.


Consumers who are mobile-savvy have already been using their phones to make in-store purchases before the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital shift accelerated during the pandemic, as people turned to contactless payments to avoid physical touch points and cash. As a result, governments in MEA introduced initiatives to promote touch-free payments.


For example, the Central Bank of the UAE raised the contactless payment limit without a PIN from AED300 (US$81.69) to AED500 (US$136.15) to encourage consumers to use contactless payments during the pandemic. Saudi Arabia banned cash on delivery (COD) transactions to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus and required couriers to use Point of Sales (POS) devices to accept debit and credit card payments from consumers.


Many large retail businesses quickly modernize payments in response to customer preferences and business needs. The retail industry, however, is dominated by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with limited resources to digitize their business models. Often, SMEs lack the time, money, and staffing to install and maintain expensive POS hardware.


Software POS (SoftPOS) levels the playing field for SMEs with an affordable app that accepts new forms of digital payments alongside traditional credit cards and cash. The SoftPOS app allows SMEs to use their mobile phones as card terminals without purchasing additional hardware. Merchants can accept Tap to Phone contactless payments for fast and secure transactions thanks to payment providers such as Mastercard and Visa.


Winning customers with flexible checkout points.


The shopping experience for customers extends beyond having the right product at the right price. According to Euromonitor, Middle East consumers value in-person interactions, making in-store experiences a priority for retailers. A major pain point for customers shopping in physical stores is the long queue at the checkout.


Customers will abandon their shopping basket and shop elsewhere if they wait too long to pay. During sales seasons, checkout queues may be longer because more customers are making purchases or returns in the store.


With cash alternatives such as mobile money in Africa, there is typically a limit to the amount of money that can be transferred in a single transaction or in a day. It may result in customers deliberately limiting their purchases to ensure that they can complete their payment in a single transaction.


Merchants can consider adopting SoftPOS, in addition to traditional checkout counters, for quick checkouts. With a SoftPOS mobile app, sales assistants can also improve the customer’s shopping experience by helping them check prices and inventory and process payments from anywhere in the store.


Additionally, merchants can provide online shoppers with frictionless checkout upon delivery. The courier just uses the SoftPOS app on their mobile device for contactless payment, with no money or physical receipts exchanged.


Understanding customer behavior with sales visibility.


SoftPOS empowers merchants and administrators with transactional analytics by consolidating transaction history for all shop locations on one dashboard. They can uncover granular insights from the transaction data by drilling down on keywords, transaction amount, payment method, transaction type, transaction status, or date range. For example, if they notice an increase in refunds for a particular product, they may want to investigate the reason for customer returns and take the necessary corrective action.


The merchant or administrator can easily manage SoftPOS users across their lifecycle. That allows the merchant to create and remove shop and staff accounts according to business needs. Many retail businesses add pop-up shops and temporary workers to meet increased demand during holiday seasons. In short, SoftPOS allows merchants the flexibility to scale up and down, which is not available with physical POS hardware.


Achieving first-mover advantage with innovative SoftPOS solutions.


More than 40% of Saudi Arabia and UAE consumers already use contactless payment apps on their mobile phones to pay for products and services in-store. Since mobile penetration in the Middle East and North Africa is expected to increase from 77% in 2021 to 84% in 2025, merchants must be ready to support more contactless payments.


Merchants can turn their smartphone into a payment terminal by downloading a SoftPOS mobile app that communicates with the customer’s EMV contactless card or digital wallet on their smartphone through Near Field Communication (NFC) protocol. With SoftPOS, merchants don’t need to worry about hardware costs or maintenance issues, unlike traditional POS. For customers, they simply tap their contactless cards or device to the merchant’s phone to make payments without carrying around physical cash. The merchant receives a digital confirmation when the transaction is accepted.


MineSec’s SoftPOS Software Development Kit (SDK) can help developers build secure retail SoftPOS apps by providing tools that meet Payment Card Industry (PCI) Contactless Payments on COTS (CPoC) requirements.


The MineSec SoftPOS SDK provides:

  • Initial encryption of account data.

  • Support for different card schemes.

  • API integration for L3 Application development to speed up development time.


Instead of writing code for functional and security requirements, developers can focus on building features to improve customer experience. For example, they can update the tax rate based on the store location or add a new language to support different users.


Find out more about how MineSec can help you develop innovative SoftPOS solutions.

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