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PAYFORT, the online payment provider, announced today the launch of its PayForward Initiative, an e-knowledge sharing and networking space designed to help startups find solutions to the challenges they are facing, thus increasing their potential for success and allowing them to better serve their clients and contribute to the national economies in the region.

The digital space will be part of the PAYFORT website and will serve as a bridge that links startups with leading e-commerce merchants, experts, mentors, and consultants so that they can share knowledge and enjoy networking opportunities, which will, in turn, be beneficial for the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“The Arab world’s startup ecosystem is really on the rise, a phenomenon that carries with it many benefits for the region’s wider economy, from employment creation to increased trade and commerce to economic and infrastructural development,” said Omar Soudodi, Managing Director at PAYFORT. “Out of our desire to not only be a state-of-the-art online solutions provider but also a driver of the region’s e-commerce and startup industries, the PayForward Initiative was born. It is our hope that program will facilitate the growth of the ecosystem, and thus increase its wider economic benefits, by connecting entrepreneurs with industry leaders and their deep knowledge, experience, and contacts.”

With an estimated 30 million people shopping online and a market that is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2015, the Middle East is a region that is ripe for e-commerce startups to gain traction. Souq.com, the Arab world’s largest e-commerce platform, is the region’s most prominent e-commerce success story, and serves as a great example for e-commerce startups.

While payment has been one of the most salient challenges faced by e-commerce startups in the region, with 70-80 percent of shoppers choosing ‘cash on delivery’ as their preferred payment method, PAYFORT – which has an 85 percent acceptance ratio, the highest in the region – is equipping startups with the reliable and secure payment solutions needed to reverse this trend.

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