Product Considerations for Middle-Eastern Users: Multi-Currency (Part 1 of 2)

thoughtbot is located in both the US & EMEA regions, and supports clients, products and users around the world. Since 2019, we’ve had the pleasure of supporting a Middle-Eastern-based food and beverage company to optimize their brick and mortar business. They approached thoughtbot seeking a development partner to help them strategically design, develop, launch and manage digital products that would allow them to scale up their services and better serve their customers. Our efforts included both mobile and web aplications that helped with the order-ahead, drive thru and delivery process.

We have had over 15 team members participate in these efforts, and I had the chance to interview a subset of them to capture some of the challenges we faced and their collective learnings. This two-part blog series will dig deeper into two use cases we encountered for a Middle-Eastern-based audience; supporting multiple currencies and facilitating an order delivery without a fixed address.

Multi-currency support

If a purchase flow is a primary action you are hoping a user makes, ensuring there is as little friction as possible is important. For this reason, allowing a user to pay in their native currency, with a preferred payment method, is ideal for maximizing conversions.

If this use case is something you are thinking through, we suggest a build vs. buy analysis to determine if a third party would be appropriate to bring in. Depending on the number of currencies to be supported, and the stage of your product, having a good data source that can automatically keep in mind exchange rate data could save you time and money.

When looking to implement a third party payment provider we commonly tap Stripe, but at the time, Stripe wasn’t able to support our Middle-Eastern audience (Stripe is now supported in the UAE as of April 2021). To support our go-live timeline, we found ourselves instead exploring Mastercard and Hyperpay, with Hyperpay being our final selection. HyperPay is a large payment provider in Middle Eastern and North African countries.

The process for selecting Hyperpay started with a technical feasibility effort to explore our options. A few key attributes we were looking for including support in our requested regions, the support they provided our team during the integration, as well as performance and reliability. Hyperpay also had a fail-safe system in place where if the main provider was experiencing downtime, they would switch to a backup provider, guaranteeing 24x7 support. For our client’s business understanding the speed of transactions we could expect and their average downtime were big decision making factors as well.

If your product is faced with a payment provider selection, we are here to help. Having supported our clients in that decision and conducting quite a few build vs. buy analysis ourselves, we have some best practices and learnings ready to be shared. Reach out to us here to start a conversation, and keep an eye out for our next blog, sharing some insights on building a product that needed to facilitate a successful delivery with a user who didn’t have a fixed location.