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    Mobile payments goes live in Baghdad as Ideal Payments looks to create M-Pesa style digital ecosystem in Iraq

    Ideal Payments, a payment solution provider in the Middle East, has partnered with Taif Money Transfer, Iraq’s premier money transfer company, to implement Taif eWallet. The service will be Iraq’s first mobile payments app, allowing customers to make and receive payments using their mobile phones.

    The service aims to create a holistic payments ecosystem used by multiple agents in the economy including retail merchants, ecommerce platforms, private companies, and government institutions. The vision is to offer the service users a one-stop-shop mobile payment service through which they can receive their salaries, pay their bills, and transfer money to friends and family.

    Iraq, a country of 35 million inhabitants, remains a cash based society at large with a significant unbanked population. Bank account penetration is below 10% and debit card penetration below 3%. Issues such as inaccessibility, inefficiency, and unaffordability deter customers from using traditional financial services. Trust also remains a key issue for the Iraqi banking sector, which customers hold in low regard following decades of mismanagement and corruption.

    Ideal Payments, a company set up and run by a team with experience from both global and local financial services, including banks such as Goldman Sachs and the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI), sought to solve these fundamental issues by implementing the latest mobile payment technology and introducing low transaction fees to make the service accessible, seamless and affordable to the entire population. Furthermore, Ideal Payments partnered with one of Iraq’s most trusted financial institutions, with a proven track record in the payments industry, to instil trust with customers.

    Ideal Payments’ local partner, Taif Money Transfer, will operate the service, using its existing agent network across Iraq to serve customers. Ideal Payments role is to select and customise the appropriate technology, prepare the business plan and execute the strategy to spread the service in Iraq. The technology is powered by Monniz, a Belgian mobile money service provider.

    At the launching announcement, which took place at TEDx Baghdad, an event that was attended by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, Ideal Payments’ CEO said “we are delighted to be one step closer to our vision of digitalising payments in Iraq and serve the country’s unbanked population by reducing the cost, time, effort and risks associated with making cash payments. Our service will disrupt the financial services industry in Iraq, offering customers and business a highly secure and very fast way to make payments and manage their money. Our goal is to replicate the success of and the value created by mobile payment operators in developing countries, such as M-pesa.”

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