When you want to take care of online payments in Bahrain there aren’t always as many options as you may have in Europe or the USA. And the big players do not always have full access to your local market. And the (local) players that do do not always offer clear setups rules. So what is available for your e-commerce business in Bahrain and how to go about it?
Integrated Payment Providers
Integrated Payment Providers or independent payment providers tend to be international players that work independently of national banks providing e-commerce businesses with options to receive online payments. Once payments received they offer options to wire this money to local banks they have partnered up with. The latter always depends on national law. Here below three I will discuss in detail and what you can do with them in Bahrain.
Paypal does not work well or not in several of the GCC states. In Bahrain it is not possible to redraw money from a PayPal account to a local bank account. Bahrain is however on the list of countries where PayPal can be used. You will need a foreign bank account or a Visa card to wire money to (see discussion here). So it is possible, but by working your way around the obstacle. Not very convenient.
Stripe is not available in the GCC. Period. See country listing here. And to be fair, they are relatively new on the market so it may take some time to penetrate the GCC market. But again, not yet available in Bahrain. Too bad though as their fees are nice and they also have great integration options. I guess we will have to wait and see.
Seems to have good local support in most if not all GCC countries. I checked the listing and saw Kuwait, SA, Bahrain, UAE as well as Oman. Wiring from 2Checkout to a UAE account seems to be possible according to a blog post here. It again does not seem possible for Bahrain though. Seems you need to get your money via a foreign bank account as well.
Merchant Account Providers
Merchant account providers (banks, state entities, hybrid entities) are local financial entities that offer local payment gateways. These allow you to get customers to pay with their local credit card or debit card and have it wired to the owner’s bank account. Let’s discuss the two I know about and that seem to be the (only) dominant players.
BENEFIT Bahrain is the national gateway that handles or electronic money transfers in Bahrain. It was originally set up during the nineties by 17 local banks to deal with electronic transfers / atms / points of sale / payment gateway in Bahrain. More importantly it is at the top of the financial wires food chain in Bahrain and handles debit card payments . It is part of the regional GCCnet. As mentioned also offers a payment gateway for online businesses to allow credit card or debit card payments and have to them wired to your bank account within the Kingdom of Bahrain.
To apply for it as an e-acquirer does seem rather hard. They do mention information on it on their site.
But it looks like it is mainly for the really big players and not SMEs. If you know more about this then I do, do let me know.
Heard from @ hishamk that there is NO API available and that all has to be done via their webform. It is however possible to apply as an SME as well, which is positive note.
First credit card payment provider in Kuwait and Bahrain. It also has made partnerships with several large international credit card companies to accept these cards at their points of sale. As stated on their site:
CrediMax was the first card acquirer that introduced state-of-the-art Point of sales (POS) machines that are well equipped to accept Smart Card including Visa, MasterCard, JCB products, Benefits, and GCC Net.
It is part of the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (BBK). See information on it here.
The nice thing about Credimax is that besides the ever present points of sales services it also offers options to server as a payment provider.
Several businesses are using custom extensions to make their online store work with the Credimax API and there is even a Magento extension. Basic code setup to work with Credimax’s setup can be found at Github.
Third Party Payment Gateways
Third party payment providers tend to be companies that built their payment gateway service on top of a local or large international payment provider. One they depend upon. Here are a few you could consider for your Bahraini based e-commerce website. And as you will see there are quite a few of them.
PayTabs is Bahrain’s very own third party payment provider. They seem to be really cool new kids on the block promising to bypass most of the tough paperwork and customer care you normally have to deal with dealing with integrated payment providers or international payment providers. The API documentation to integrate PayTabs into your web app can be downloaded or viewed here. And here a short video:
I have however not found any Magento or WordPress plugins. So, developers, opportunities out there!
@sergeantpeanuts mentioned: “Paytabs offer a mobile integration, however you’re still redirected to the browser for payment to take place. They need a little hand with their APIs too.“
That is not nice, that redirect. Do hope PayTabs works this out sooner rather than later.
They only work in the UAE and private beta in Saudi Arabia at the moment it seems. But still worth a mention because it Looks like a really cool player. Payfort has several plugins for existing CMS in existence including WordPress / WooCommerce and Magento which is pretty amazing considering the others I mentioned and the lack in that field.
However they only seem to deal with USD and UAE currency and accept a limited amount of credit cards. And that is besides the fact they do not have seemed to be open for business in Bahrain!
@sergeantpeanuts mentioned that “Payfort is said to come out with a more open to GCC payment gateway called Start, still in beta. ” That is something to look forward to!
Hyperpay (Former Gate2Play)
Hyperpay is a payment service provider in the Mena region. It was highly recommended by Fifi at Maison Maillot who I spoke to about it last night. They offer ready made integrations for Magento and WordPress, which is wonderful of course. They also offer one click checkout which is great for conversion. It uses the payon backbone to deal with multiple currencies. Rules and fees for becoming a merchant are not clear however. They basically show you a form to show your interest. When I get a change I will ask Fifi about it all.
Payza (Former AlertPay )
Payza offers the following payment options in Bahrain:
- Bank wire
You can however only withdraw in EUR, GBP or USD and so not in BHD. The Bitcoin part really jumped out here as Bahrain is not really into that that much really. The rest is overall a bit meager. Good documentation for devs I must say though.
So as you can see there are more options than you may have thought. There are however few canned solutions and you will often need the help of a developer to get going. Well, we are here to help you when you need some. You also may ask yourself, why didn’t Jasper do a nice summary of all the fees involved. Well, I might just do that in a follow up post. But I thought this general overview post should be a good start and I hope you do too!