Saudi-U.K. Partners Ready for Prepaid Rollout (Sept. 24, 2013)
Today in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, U.K.-based payments technology company Ixaris and Middle East technology provider 3omlti e-Commerce have announced a significant partnership to bring prepaid cards to Saudi consumers and companies. Together the companies plan to use Ixaris’ prepaid platform, known for its virtual prepaid cards, and 3omlti’s extensive knowledge of the market and connections to local banks and retailers to offer prepaid products, initially targeted at the substantial youth population, which is online but lacks a means to shop on the Internet.
Two banks are in negotiations to begin piloting prepaid cards this year, with rollouts expected in early 2014 after the government issues new prepaid regulations, according to Ixaris Founder and CEO Alex Mifsud. The regulations are expected to enable issuers to earn interchange from merchants instead of paying merchants to accept cards, which is the current practice.
“The Saudi market is particularly exciting—it’s the most populous of the Gulf states, has a predominantly young population and a high penetration of online activity, including the highest percentage of Twitter users. These are people who are switched online and looking at things they could buy but don’t have bank accounts and credit cards to participate in e-commerce,” Mifsud tells Paybefore.
“We will provide our market knowledge of [consumers] and understanding of how to market the products, while Ixaris has the know-how and experience that will help us [go live in] the market in optimal time with global standards,” explains Khalid Al Holan, founder and CEO, 3omlti e-Commerce.
Mifsud adds that virtual prepaid cards for online shopping are just the beginning of the partners’ plans. They also will enable global remittances and target merchants on the acquiring side to increase card acceptance as well as build a retail distribution and reload network. 3omlti e-Commerce also will work with Ixaris to extend its payments ecosystem to the Gulf Cooperation Council states and across the Middle East.