EghtesadOnline: The Nilson Report, one of the most trusted sources of news and analysis of the global card and mobile payment industries, has surveyed the largest merchant acquirers in Middle East and Africa in 2016.
The report indicates that Iranian payment service providers have recorded considerably higher volumes of transactions, compared with other PSPs in the region.
Despite the fact that Iranian PSPs do not have any connection with Visa or MasterCard, their transactions, along with their acquired merchants, are significantly higher compared to other countries in the region.
However, the report has placed Iranian PSPs at the bottom of the list because it has been sorted by the volume of Visa/MasterCard transactions, Financial Tribune reported.
These US-based companies refuse to have any activities in Iran, as they claim sanctions remain in place for US-based companies, which do not allow them to process payments for Iranian banks and merchants.
Active Merchant Outlets
According to the report, Beh Pardakht Mellat, affiliated with Bank Mellat, registered the biggest number of active merchant outlets in 2016. The figure stood at 862,970, which is bigger than the collective number of active merchant outlets registered by non-Iranian Middle Eastern and African PSPs.
Beh Pardakht Mellat has distributed 844,977 POS terminals among merchants, which also constitute the largest volume among Middle Eastern and African PSPs.
Parsian E-Commerce Company, affiliated with Parsian Bank, was next in line as the firm recorded 834,517 active merchant outlets and 768,678 POS terminals.
Asan Pardakht Persian, Pasargad Electronic Payment (affiliated with Bank Pasargad) and Saman Bank's Saman e-Pay came next regarding the number of active merchant outlets and distributed POS terminals.
South African PSPs, namely Absa Bank, First National Bank, Standard Bank and Nedbank, registered the highest number of active merchant outlets in Middle East and Africa after Iranian companies.
Absa Bank and First National Bank's active merchant outlets in 2016 respectively stood at 54,954 and 55,651while both companies have about 120,000 POS terminals in the market.
Number, Volume of Transactions
The Iranian PSP, Beh Pardakht Mellat, also managed to register the largest number and volume of transactions in 2016. The number of its transactions exceeded 2.7 billion with an overall value of $133 billion.
Saman e-Pay and Asan Pardakht Persian both recorded over 1.9 billion transactions that are considerably higher than other PSPs in the region. The value of the two PSPs' transactions stood at $40 billion and $27 billion, respectively.
This is while the transactions of Iranian PSPs are only conducted domestically and they have no international ties for now.
The Nilson Report has placed South Africa's Absa Bank on top of its list. The African PSP has registered 728 million transactions worth $18.5 billion with Visa and MasterCard while it recorded 6.8 million domestic transactions with a total value of $370million.
The difference between Iranian payment service providers and even the largest PSPs in other countries of Middle East and Africa in case of number and value of transactions is way too much.
There is no doubt that the payment industry in Iran has significantly improved in recent years, but the huge gap between the volume and number of Iranian PSPs' transactions with other countries in the region shows that Iranians favor electronic payment methods as they have proven to be safe and fast.
In Iran, people prefer to use their bank cards instead of cash even to pay small amounts of money because they do not have to pay any kind of fee for the transaction. Hence, the number of transactions and the volume of money in circulation surge this high.
Twelve PSPs have been licensed by the Central Bank of Iran to operate in the market. PSPs process about 1 billion transactions each month worth about 1 trillion rials ($31.7 billion) on average.
Shaparak, the CBI-affiliated firm in charge of managing Iran’s payment network, processed 1.28 billion transactions worth 1.37 trillion rials ($35.3 billion).