For a good while now, we’ve been in an almost constant expansion mode in the Middle East and North Africa. A little over six months ago we opened our first office in Pakistan, in the city of Karachi. Next stop on the expansion roadmap was Bahrain, a country that is moving ever so closely toward becoming the fin-tech hub of the Gulf region and where Mastercard has been operating for close to three decades now.
The list has now grown longer with the recent opening of our dedicated office in Jordan, located in the capital Amman, one of the main commercial and financial centers in the region.
The opening of our office in Jordan is a cause for celebration for many reasons. To begin with, the office serves as our Levant Headquarters – which means we will now be even closer to our partners in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine. Second, Jordan is a key growth market for our operations in the Middle East and North Africa. We have been serving the Kingdom for the last 24 years and have now strengthened our operations there by establishing a formal presence dedicated specifically to this market.
There are other, market-specific factors as well that spurred us to establish a presence in Jordan. The country is on the cusp of a digital revolution, helped along by a mobile penetration rate of 127% and a young, tech-savvy population eager to embrace new technologies. A recent study reveals that 86% of Jordan’s population are active internet users, and by 2020, 4G penetration is expected to reach as much as 70%, further accelerating the huge market opportunity already present in the country. Jordan also has a strong start-up culture, with e-commerce being the main focus area for most of these new companies.
In any market, macro-level policies and regulations are decisive factors in bringing payment innovations to scale. In Jordan, proactive and purposeful governmental policies have been the bedrock on which the country has built its rapid growth in electronic payments. The Jordanian government already supplies over 100 services electronically, with plans to launch a further 100 e-services by end-2017 and another 150 during 2018-2019.
The above stats define the sheer size of the market opportunity waiting to be tapped in Jordan.
The opening of an office in Amman will allow us to leverage on these opportunities more effectively. With a physical presence right where the action unfolds, we will now be able to make our market moves faster and align our efforts more closely with that of our local partners to bring the benefits of technology and financial inclusion to underserved communities across the region.
As Jordan and the region at large prepare for a digital transformation, our new office essentially represents an opportunity for us to play a more active role in making that transition happen in the years to come – and, in doing so, give a further fillip to our vision of creating a ‘world beyond cash’.