E-commerce gaining ground in MENA, says report

The number of people using online shopping portals is also increasing in the region. In the UAE 62 percent of people have bought something online in the last month, a 25 percent year- on-year rise and 47 percent made a purchase using their mobile phones during the same period. (Reuters)
Updated 12 February 2017

E-commerce gaining ground in MENA, says report

JEDDAH: With the advancement in technology and due to the immense popularity of the Internet in the Middle East, businesses in the region need to invest in technology and to come up with innovative ideas to help boost the growth of e-commerce.
Of the 246 million people living in the Middle East, 60 percent (147 million) have access to the Internet — up 15 percent from 2016 — 34 percent (93 million) are active on social media, representing a 47 percent year-on-year rise, and the mobile subscriptions in the region have reached 312 million.
The statistics were revealed in a study conducted by Hootsuite and We Are Social. The study said that consumers in the region now demand online solutions they can access through their mobile phones on social media platforms — and the financial sector in particular needs to invest in the appropriate technology or risk being left behind.
Chris Fountain, managing director of Turret Media, organizers of MEFTECH 2017, said: “The rise in digital use in the Middle East should not surprise anyone, but I think most people would be surprised at just how sharply it is rising and the figures on mobile use in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are quite incredible.”
Globally the amount of web traffic on mobile devices has soared in recent years, with just over half (50.3 percent) now being accessed this way, a significant rise from 2013 (35 percent) and from the first figure recorded in 2009 of 0.7 percent.
The research also revealed some startling findings on e-commerce, with 1.61 billion people buying stuff online in 2016 (22 percent of the global population). This equated to a total business to consumer market of $1.915trillion last year, $1,189 on average per person.
The number of people using online shopping portals is also increasing in the region. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 62 percent of people have bought something online in the last month, a 25 percent year- on-year rise and 47 percent made a purchase using their mobile phones during the same period. In Saudi Arabia, 39 percent people have made online purchases, an increase of 57 percent from last year and 33 percent bought things using their mobiles, said the report.
“What will be of particular interest to the financial sector and more specifically to those involved in financial technology is the huge rise in e-commerce. These figures highlight just how important it is that banks and other financial institutions are investing in the right technology that allows their customers and potential customers to carry out their transactions when and where they want. The firms who do not adapt and invest risk being left behind,” Fountain said.
The report also revealed interesting figures from the more affluent nations in the GCC with 99 percent of people in the UAE using the Internet, 70 percent in Saudi Arabia and 93 percent in Bahrain. Qatar and the UAE have the highest social media penetration in the world (both 99 percent), while Saudi Arabia has seen the highest growth in penetration with a 73 percent rise resulting in 59 percent of the Saudi population using social media platforms.
Highlighting the importance of MEFTECH 2017, to be held in Abu Dhabi in March, Fountain said that the event would showcase various innovative technologies, such as Facebook Finance.


Trump calls for World Bank to stop lending to China

Updated 07 December 2019

Trump calls for World Bank to stop lending to China

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday called for the World Bank to stop giving loans to China, one day after the institution adopted a lending plan to Beijing over Washington’s objections.
The World Bank on Thursday adopted a plan to aid China with $1 billion to $1.5 billion in low-interest loans annually through June 2025. The plan calls for lending to “gradually decline” from the previous five-year average of $1.8 billion.
“Why is the World Bank loaning money to China? Can this be possible? China has plenty of money, and if they don’t, they create it. STOP!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Spokespeople for the White House and the World Bank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The World Bank loaned China $1.3 billion in the fiscal 2019 year, which ended on June 30, a decrease from around $2.4 billion in fiscal 2017.
But the fall in the World Bank’s loans to China is not swift enough for the Trump administration, which has argued that Beijing is too wealthy for international aid.