2018 has been a year in which e-commerce ceased to be an intriguing novelty in advanced economies, and became very much a fact of everyday life on every continent. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the latest region to show rapid uptake of digital trade, with swift progress in mass connectivity and mobile device penetration. The United Arab Emirates’ Telecommunications Regulatory Authority released its MENA E-Commerce Report 2018 last month, which showed that 40% of consumers in the region now make routine purchases online. Of these, 34% have increased their digital purchasing habits this year, while 42% of those who do not yet shop online expect to do so within a year. Another recent report by BMI Research found that the Middle East’s e-commerce market is set to almost double over the next few years, reaching a value of more than $48 billion by 2022, up from just under $27 billion today. Particularly keen growth is being seen in mobile transactions: mobile now accounts for 47% of all online transactions across the Middle East and Africa, a brisk rise from 41% last year. This number rises to 59% among retailers who actively promote their digital shopping apps. Momentum is fast picking up behind MENA’s online trade, and much of it is mobile.
Realisation of this potential stems significantly from advances in provision of digital identity. Without confidence that their data, personal information and funds are secure, consumers will not place their trust in online transactions. That they are doing so in rapidly increasing numbers – and disproportionately on mobile platforms – is testament to the mobile industry’s success in meeting this expectation. The pan-industry digital identity solution Mobile Connect – which pairs users through 2-factor identification with their mobile device to authorise online transactions – has a growing track record around the world, now launching at an average of one new operator per month globally. MENA consumers are increasingly alive to the assurances such technology can offer: market research from the end of last month shows that, while the Middle East and Africa market holds a relatively smaller share of the digital identity market currently, it is expected to grow disproportionately over the forecast period.
Particularly strong growth in e-commerce has been seen in Turkey, with the country’s Association of E-Commerce Operators anticipating an increase in traffic volumes of 30-35% this year. Turkcell’s Mobile Connect-aligned identity solution Fast Login, which has already carried out more than 100 million transactions, enabled Turkey’s recent milestone of becoming the first market globally to meet the commercial sustainability criteria set by the GSMA. In recognition of this success, Turkcell’s CEO Kaan Terzioglu will deliver the keynote address to a GSMA Identity event over two days next week – 10 and 11 October – focusing on monetisation of identity services by mobile operators. From Vision to Reality: Delivering Commercial Success Through Identity Services will bring together experts from Turkcell, SK Telecom, Ericsson, Microsoft and Orange to discuss commercial provision of digital identity: how to support service providers, how to partner effectively with financial institutions and how to navigate the latest European regulations.
“As our digital world expands, the need for secure and seamless login becomes greater. Telecom operators are uniquely positioned to provide accountable and secure login to citizens of the digital world as the shortcomings of social network-based models become more obvious,” explains Mr Terzioglu. “With our Mobile Connect-based solution, we make the logging-in experience seamless and secure for the end users, while providing an essential authentication service to our corporate partners. We are proud to see that Turkey’s digital ecosystem and users were so quick to respond to this opportunity.” Turkey occupies a unique position in the world: simultaneously connected in culturally and commercially to the Middle East, but aligned to much of Europe’s regulatory regimes and business norms. If there is a single organisation who can offer insights to the commercial crossover of the two regions in the mobile industry, it is Turkcell; the insights on offer next week will be unmissable for all those with interests spanning both.