PayTabs: From a paper napkin to reality

Efma feature

15 March 2019

Abdulaziz Al Jouf explains how PayTabs has gone from an idea to a worldwide presence.


"It is often said that the best ideas are born when you are least ready for them,” says Abdulaziz Al Jouf, the founder and CEO of PayTabs. “Sometimes a brainwave will hit you while you are cruising along the highway at 60 miles per hour, to meet a friend. Sometimes you may see something creative or interesting at an event that sparks your imagination. Sometimes, a crazy idea will eat at you while you are out shopping or at your local coffee shop, sipping a latte. PayTabs is what I’d call a ‘napkin idea’.

PayTabs – a fintech first established in Saudi Arabia but with a solution available in 21 countries, so far, around the Middle East, Africa and Asia – provides online merchants with a simple way to accept payments quickly and safely from anywhere in the world. It’s a simple premise, borne from the difficulties Al Jouf experienced in trying to run his own e-commerce businesses.

“I faced many obstacles and difficulties when trying to acquire a payment gateway for one of my online businesses,” says Al Jouf. “Appalled by the cumbersome procedures involved in processing online payments, I took it upon myself to change the status quo. Having lived overseas, I had experienced the ease with which online payments were facilitating businesses at large and taking small mom-andpop stores global.

“In 2014 I took the risk and challenged myself to establish a payment processing company. PayTabs started off as a simple and secure payment gateway platform to help business owners who had no access to a payment gateway. To me, PayTabs represented the solution to the problem that prevented the growth of e-commerce and digital payments in the Middle East and Asia.”

Al Jouf says PayTabs adds value in a way that traditional market players haven’t been able to.

“Imagine a baker in the Philippines, a dress designer in the UAE or a craftsman in India,” he says. “These small business owners and entrepreneurs work out of their homes or popup shops and struggle to sell beyond their local neighborhood. By offering them a platform to accept payments, pay and get paid in 168 currencies around the world, we can facilitate the growth of their business from their local towns and take them global.

“Imagine the value that we are creating by being able to transform the lives of thousands of small business, entrepreneurs and companies in over 21 countries in the world. Our payment solutions have become a catalyst for growth in the Gulf, Middle East, North Africa and Asia-Pacific regions. Our solutions have been recognized as groundbreaking and awardwinning, and it has taken us just five years to achieve this feat in comparison to traditional market players.”

What does Al Jouf think it takes for financial institutions to succeed in the Middle East?

“The true winners will be those that evolve digitally,” he says. “There are some key innovative trends that will define financial institutions regionally and globally. As the infrastructure of payments continues to evolve, innovation will transform key aspects of traditional finance, such as data, analytics, technology and delivery. Payment trends will be complemented by further advances in the internet of things, cloud processing, mobility and wearables, augmented and virtual reality, mobile wallets, cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

“Open banking is another trend that will transform the industry. By making account and payment data available through secure APIs, consumers will have greater freedom and control in how they interact with their retail banks and other financial service providers.

“However, in our region, what I have noticed so far is the ease of announcing the trendy press release, but when it comes to reality it’s sad that we are far from what have been claimed. We need to be aggressive, fast and reliable to bring the innovation to the next level.”

Al Jouf says PayTabs has grand plans. “With PayTabs’ unique vision of being global in outlook but customizing payment products and tailor-making services to suit local small- and medium-sized business needs, we have ambitious plans to acquire market share in at least 20 new markets in Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa regions. We also plan to create thousands of new jobs in the next three to five years from direct hiring and through businesses who rely on our services.” 

If you want to know more about retail banking in the Middle East, please download the 2019 Efma Middle East review

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Keywords : Fintech , Digital payments/Wallet

Geography : Bahrain