Decoding the complexity of Qatar’s e-commerce industry
The growth potential of Qatar’s QAR3.71 billion e-commerce market is well documented but the sector still faces a number of challenges – something that was discussed during Qatar’s E-commerce Forum held in Doha. By Syed Ameen Kader.
Qatar’s E-Commerce Forum 2015 held last month was an opportunity to bring together businesses, policy makers and e-commerce service providers to address some of those challenges, and discuss new trends and developments in the global and Qatari e-commerce markets.
Organised by ictQATAR, the event saw a large participation from the e-commerce industry, including representatives from Google, PayPal, PayFort, Qatar Development Bank, Doha Bank, Visa, Uber Technologies, Ooredoo, Aramex International and Q-Post.
Moayed Siddiq, governance engagement specialist, Digital Industry Development Department, ictQATAR, said, “The e-commerce forum really serves two purposes. First of all, it marks the end of the e-commerce road map project in which ictQATAR has spent several months looking at various issues such as payments, logistics, etcetera. And it is kind of announcing some of the solutions that ictQATAR has come up with and some of the steps that the ministry is taking to help solve these problems with all the other relevant government bodies and private sector entities.”
He said it is the beginning of a dialogue between a number of different entities working in e-commerce in Qatar. “A lot of work happening with e-commerce in the country is in isolated silos. So the event is bringing people together to create a community, and moving forward, if we do have any issues, we can work together,” he added.
One of the major announcements that HE Dr. Hessa Al Jaber, minister of information and communications technology, made during the event was the opening up of the postal market in Qatar. Delivery of products bought online is still a major issue that most e-commerce companies face in Qatar today. With the liberalisation of the postal sector, local courier companies can now address some of these issues to a large extent.
Another bottleneck Qatar’s e-commerce industry faces in a market where still 80 percent of online transactions are done through a cash-on-delivery model, is the existence of a limited number of e-payment service providers in the country. However, Qatar is addressing this issue by allowing more payment service providers to get into the market. PayFort, for instance, chose this occasion to announce their entry into the Qatari market. The Dubai-based payment service provider will start its operation by the end of this month, the company’s CEO Omar Soudodi told The Edge, on the sidelines of the event. “We are going to issue a formal press release soon, but today we announced our entry into Qatar market.”
Soududi said, “There is a lot interest for the Qatari, both from regional and global companies. We have a lot of international brands that we support in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and they have all expressed interest into the Qatari market. For us, it makes all sense to come and launch in Qatar.”