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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Qatar Needs Paypal (or something similar!)

UPDATE: There is an alternative to PayPal which can be used in Qatar now - see The PayPal Alternative for details.

It is easier for me to pay people in India, Mexico and Japan than it is to pay someone in Doha.

Last night I posted a small job I wanted to outsource on a website. Within minutes I had five quotes. I chose one who had high ratings. Within ten minutes we had discussed the job, and I had put the money in escrow.

Paying the money took around a minute, even with Qtel speed internet.

Compare this to Qatar.

When my car broke down I had it taken to the industrial area. I hate going to the industrial area so much that I pay someone to do it for me. However, when the garage required a deposit I had no option but to spend an hour driving there, navigating round the awful roads before physically paying the garage. I then had to spend an hour driving back.

Unfortunately, many companies seem stuck with antiquated payment systems.

I know companies whose employees spend half their time driving round Qatar collecting cheques.

Which got me thinking.

How much of Doha's never ending traffic jams are caused by pointless journey?

How much productivity is lost by employees spending hours in traffic jams for the sake of something which could be done in seconds over the internet?

And how much quality of life is lost by spending unnecessary time in cars?

Unfortunately, Paypal, the most popular internet payment provider, is not available in Qatar.

Perhaps Qatar, with its 1,500,000 inhabitants, is too small for companies like Paypal to worry about.

Which means there is a big opportunity for the right person - a person with connections, preferably a Qatari - to make a lot of money setting a similar system up.

Although in some ways Qatar is leading the way in technology - see Qatar's cord blood bank - it would not be an easy job.

The hardest thing would be persuading people who have been doing the same thing for years on end to change.

But if it saves on trips to the industrial area, it'll be a very worthwhile change.

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