From its base in Dubai, Careem has expanded to 100 cities in 15 countries in less than a decade. And, as its footprint has expanded, so has its offering. Taxis, hire cars, takeaways, shopping — even a bike-sharing scheme — there are not many everyday services that Careem doesn’t offer to its customers.
Payments underpin the experience and service Careem offers its customers. And, by choosing Checkout.com as one of its Payment Service Providers (PSP), Careem has a growth partner that enables them to overcome the complexity of the markets it operates in and move at speed to leverage new growth opportunities such as launching its mobile wallet, Careem Pay.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, buying behaviors changed overnight. In Saudi Arabia, for example, Careem needed a solution to help customers who were wary of handling cash. Checkout.com worked with Careem to quickly enable Apple Pay, and today many customers use it as their primary payment method. It’s just one example of how the partnership with Checkout.com has delivered benefits for Careem.
“We work with a lot of suppliers, but only a few are true partners,” says Hassan Mahbub, Head of Strategy, Careem Pay. “And Checkout.com is one of our growth partners that play a role in allowing us to retain and attract customers. Nothing is off-the-shelf or recycled. The team at Checkout.com works hard to understand our exact needs and tailor the advice they bring to the table. They understand how payments interact with pretty much every key metric we have. And there’s always a long-term view to make sure we’re creating sustainable impact together.”
As a payments gateway for Careem Pay, Checkout.com gives Careem’s customers a wide range of ways to pay – with a solution that scales seamlessly across markets.
“It’s all about choice and control,” says Mahbub. “Working with Checkout.com means we always know which local payment methods are most appropriate and can switch them on easily. For instance, Checkout.com was the first provider to adopt Mada, the national payments system in Saudi Arabia. So we’re fully in control and know we can switch on new payment methods at any time, and in all our key markets.”
Using payments to unlock innovation
“Payments are a crucial part of our strategy,” explains Mahbub. “We’re an ambitious business, but you can’t grow where you can’t take payments. Across our markets, consumer habits and available payment methods vary widely from country to country – and even from city to city. Then you have to navigate different national regulations and compliance obligations, and the systems you need to stitch together different schemes as seamlessly as possible. It all becomes far more complicated than simply accepting payments.”
Managing this complexity is more than a technical challenge; it’s a fundamental question of customer experience and business value. “We want the Careem experience to be seamless,” says Mahbub. “And if you’re not careful, payments are often the part where a digital experience breaks down.
“There are many layers of complexity. But if you have a payments partner like Checkout.com, you’re able to create a competitive advantage.”
Whether it’s expanding into new markets or launching new services, Careem is driven to innovate. And like many leading Fintechs, it puts payments at the center of innovation.
“The move from the Gulf’s traditionally cash-dominated economies to digital payments is driven in part by a high percentage of digitally-native young people. Robust digital payment options have become an integral part of what consumers expect from merchants,” says Mohammed Ali Yusuf, Regional Manager – MENAP at Checkout.com.
In its latest report ‘Connected Payments in MENAP’ report, Checkout.com reveals that while the region has historically been dominated by cash payments, this presents a significant growth opportunity for the digital payments industry. Nearly half of the survey respondents (45%) in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP) region said that they were now purchasing products and services online more frequently than they did before the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, and that digital payments are by far the most preferred payment method with online shoppers in the GCC.
“You have to take a holistic approach to payments,” explains Mahbub. “The insight is just too valuable to waste. Elevate payments beyond the transactional and make them central to your strategic planning. And Checkout.com is one of the critical ingredients that enable us to do that by giving us the data and insights we need to grow our business and unlock growth.”