International Councils To Highlight Opportunities And Challenges Of Billion Dollar MENA Payments Industry

By Wynne Evans

Dubai, 7 November, 2014: Lafferty Group, the leading knowledge services provider for the financial industry worldwide, will be holding its prestigious Council meetings in Dubai for the first time, from 10 - 12 November, 2014.

The three high-profile Council Meetings, namely the International Cards and Payments Council, the International Retail Banking Council and the Global Merchant Services Councilare being brought to the region by Network International, the leading payment solutions provider in the Middle East.

The meetings are expected to be attended by senior banking and payment executives from around the world to discuss a range of issues, including the opportunities and challenges facing the estimated $880 billion payments industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Lafferty Councils are member-only meetings which were established in 1995 by the Lafferty Group. The meetings, each focused on the retail banking, cards & payments and mobile money sectors respectively provide an international peer group where participants work together to identify industry best practices for mutual benefit. Each Council meeting will feature thought-provoking presentations and discussions led by industry leaders and experts.

Michael Lafferty, Chairman of Lafferty Group said, “Lafferty Group's interest and involvement in the MENA region is long-standing and we regularly produce research reports that focus on key markets in the region. It is a fascinating and diverse area and is a massive market for retail banking, wealth management and payments like remittance services. There is also a thirst for knowledge in matters such as retail banking best practice and industry trends and issues.”

Commenting on the growing relevance of the MENA payments industry, Bhairav Trivedi, Chief Executive Officer, Network International, stated, “Our partnership with the Lafferty Group to host the Council meetings here in Dubai speaks volumes of the attention this region is garnering within the global banking and payment industries.

“The banking and payments markets in the Middle East and North Africa are among the fastest growing in the world and the UAE, in particular, leads the region in the adoption of online and mobile payment systems. On the consumer side, there are a number of factors impacting the demand for services – populations in the region are becoming younger on average and they are better educated and more demanding. In a highly competitive environment, banks, financial institutions as well as solutions providers like us across the region have invested heavily to offer customers a range of innovative products and payment solutions,” added Trivedi.

Network International, headquartered in Dubai, is the largest acquirer in the United Arab Emirates. The company provides comprehensive payment products and services throughout the region. In the last three years, the company has witnessed a doubling in volume of transactions processed, reaching almost 400 million transactions in 2013, amounting to AED 70 billion in volume.

“The Lafferty Councils will bring in timely attention to the issues facing the burgeoning payments industry in the region, leading to better consumer insight as well as a more robust regulatory environment,” concluded Trivedi.

Lafferty Group estimates that the total value of non-cash retail payments in MENA was $880 billion in 2013.

Notes for editors:

Lafferty Group

Lafferty Group is a major provider of knowledge services – from benchmarking research and Councils to professional education – for the financial industry worldwide, with particular specialisations in the field of retail banking and cards and payments. The company's International Academy of Retail Banking is a global educational and professional body for the retail banking industry and was created in the belief that retail banking should be a profession – like accountancy and law – and offers similar professional education programmes and examinations.

Network International

Established in 1994, Network International LLC is the largest acquirer in the UAE, and a leading payment solutions provider in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). The company's service offering comprises a comprehensive range of payment products and services for both the Issuing and Acquiring segments of banks, financial institutions and retail merchants.

This includes credit, debit and prepaid card processing, ATM management and monitoring, merchant acquiring and processing, fraud management, e-commerce services and mobile solutions for the payments industry, with the objective of enabling speedy, secure and convenient payment transactions for customers. In addition, the company offers several value-add products including data analytics, scoring and loyalty solutions. Network International has Operation centers in the UAE, Egypt and India, with its corporate head office in Dubai. The company continues to invest in strategic partnerships that will increasingly see its influence spread across the region.

Network International is a Principal Member of Visa International and MasterCard International in the UAE and enjoys extension of its MasterCard License in other key countries. It is also a member of JCB and Union Pay card schemes, and it owns and manages the Diners Club International Franchise in the UAE, Egypt, Lebanonand Jordan. In 2013, the company launched a GCC based domestic scheme, Mercury, and partnered with Discover Financial Services (DFS) to allow global acceptance of Mercury cards on the Discover, Diners Club International and PULSE networks. Network International, a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) certified company, is also a major player in the international remittance industry and owns a majority stake in Times of Money Ltd., a leading global online remittance and digital payments company facilitating cross-border remittances and domestic payments in emerging economies.

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