International not-for-profit trade association Prepaid International Forum (PIF) has announced that the official launch meeting of its Middle East Chapter will take place in November in Dubai and that founder members of the new chapter include Visa, Al Rajhi Bank and The Saudi Investment Bank. Dr Saleh I. Al-Furaih, Head of Consumer Asset Business at Al Rajhi Bank has been appointed as Chairman of the new chapter.
Launched under the patronage of TSYS, PIF Middle East aims to bring together the prepaid ecosystem in the region to educate and influence policymakers and consumers to remove misperceptions and grow understanding of prepaid payment solutions.
The Middle East is a key market for prepaid, with segments including mobile, payroll cards and general purpose cards poised for significant growth. The potential for prepaid continues to gather pace and the opportunity across different customer segments is vast. Among them is the opportunity for prepaid to be used as an alternative low-cost solution for servicing the region’s large expatriate community in place of traditional banking services. The rapidly emerging affluent segment is another key target for the expansion of innovative prepaid solutions. It is against this backdrop that PIF has decided to create a regional chapter for the region.
Dr Saleh I. Al-Furaih, Chairman of PIF Middle East, said, “The potential for prepaid in the Middle East is huge. New opportunities to position prepaid as sustainable payment solution in key segments such as youth and the unbanked are rapidly emerging, as is the potential for prepaid to enhance financial inclusion. To fully realise the potential for prepaid in the region the industry must work to educate and garner the support of regulators, end-users and the media. The launch of PIF in the Middle East represents an important step in building a prepaid community. As an influential guiding force for the industry PIF will provide a framework to help drive and shape the development of prepaid in the Middle East.”
The new PIF Middle East Chapter will address the key areas of interest to all involved in prepaid in the region through highly focused and interactive working groups covering the areas of consumer education, public relations and industry best practice. Through PIF members and directors in Europe and India and its connections with sister organisations in the US and Europe, PIF Middle East is committed to helping the industry overcome the challenges of launching and managing successful prepaid programmes.
Malek Mroueh from TSYS and Co-Chairman of PIF Middle East , added, “We are really excited to be a continued part of the growth of the Prepaid International Forum (PIF) and to see prepaid programmes being leveraged to their maximum advantage in the footsteps of the successful launches of the European and Indian PIF chapters that we have supported as Patron. We have been supporting prepaid cards since the mid-90’s and our recent acquisition of NetSpend in the US means we have the breadth and depth of experience that will be able to help support the development of the PIF objectives across all regions.”
The new chapter will become part of global network for industry thought-leadership. PIF Middle East members will have access to a range of member services and resources including white papers and industry guidance and informed perspective on key emerging global developments for prepaid.
PIF Chairman Robert Courtneidge welcomed the announcement. He said, “The global potential for prepaid continues to grow and the need for an international trade body that can encourage and stimulate growth has never been stronger. PIF warmly welcomes the founder members of PIF Middle East and looks forward to sharing and recommending best practices and codes of conduct for consumers, businesses and all organisations operating in the prepaid arena in the Middle East.”