Careem enters digital payment platform to take on Apple and Samsung Pay From left: Marcello Baricordi, Visa’s General Manager for MENA; Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder and CEO of Careem; Junaid Iqbal, Managing Director of Careem Pay; and Otto Williams, Vice President, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Fintechs and Ventures, CEMEA at Visa.

Ride-hailing platform Careem has entered into digital payments platform and is gearing up to take on Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

The platform has partnered with Visa to integrate its credentials into the Careem Pay super app wallet across the Middle East and North Africa region.

“We plan to bring more use cases as a large mode of payments still happens in cash. As we move to our super app journey, we offer our Careem captains (drivers) with financial payment services to resolve liquidity challenges associated with cash conversion due to Covid-19, low-cost remittances and real-time access to funds,” Junaid Iqbal, Managing Director at Careem Pay, said.

Careem operates in over 100 cities across 13 countries and has created 1.7m employment opportunities in the region. In January 2020, Careem became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber.

The company has also ventured into delivery services, RTA taxi, food delivery, money transfer and mobile recharge.

Otto Williams, Vice-President, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Fintechs and Ventures, CEMEA at Visa, said that they have signed a multi-year agreement with Careem that will see Visa push payment services become available through the app.

“We have 60m merchants globally accept Visa. Careem super app opens up the opportunities and financial access to many million users and captains.

Moreover, he said that Covid-19 has radically changed how people spend, send and use money.

 “With the pandemic already reinforcing existing trends towards increased digitisation of payments, it is vital to introduce convenient and secure cashless solutions to bring formal financial services to the underbanked. Our next-generation fund transfer solutions include earnings payouts, P2P transfers and cross-border remittances that are integral to economic recovery,” he said.

Cash is still king in region

Iqbal said the digital payments platform will be rolled out in the UAE first in the coming quarter, followed by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan and other parts of the region before the end of the fiscal year.

Once people have the Visa credentials, he said that it can also be used to pay for Uber rides, Apple or Google Pay, or pay for online purchases.

Visa and Careem will partner with licensed banks and regulators to roll out this service across the entire region.

Iqbal said that more than 75% of the payment transactions in the region are still in cash while it is more than 90% in Pakistan, UAE is less than 40% and in Saudi Arabia, it is around 50%. 

“Most of the banks don’t have open APIs but there are Fintechs that are emerging which can help companies connect directly with the banks. We hope that banks will come out with open APIs and we will also explore ways to integrate with banks in the meanwhile,” he said.

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