Improved payments performance allows Anghami to bring the freedom of music to millions
Anghami launched its music streaming service in 2012 to reduce music piracy across the Middle East and North Africa. Less than a decade later, it has become the most popular way to listen to the music of major Arabic and International artists, with 70 million registered users accessing 57 million songs and podcasts. Its spectacular growth brought international attention, and in March 2021, Anghami became the first Arabic technology company to list on New York’s Nasdaq with a valuation of around $220 million.
A factor in Anghami’s stunning growth and the subsequent listing is its ongoing effort to encourage customers to make credit card payments. In parts of the world, this may seem like a trivial challenge. But in the Middle East, credit cards have typically been a novel way to pay. For Anghami, that had meant customers were primarily paying for subscriptions via their mobile phone operators.
Choucri Khairallah, Vice President Of Business Development at Anghami, explains why credit card payments became such a focus. "It’s about controlling the whole user lifecycle. With credit cards, we have more flexibility to launch special offers that aren't easy to implement through other channels. And credit cards give us better revenue margins too."
Today a growing percentage of Anghami’s customers pay by credit card. It has not just been a success in persuading their users to adopt cards but adopting the technology that makes credit card payment possible in the first place.
The latter had proved to be a series of false starts for Anghami. "We had worked with a few credit card processing partners, but each time we were having issues with low authorization rates and high charges for cross-border transactions," says Khairallah. Step forward Checkout.com, which became Anghami’s sole credit card payments partner in 2020. The impact was immediate. Within just a few months, Anghami’s authorization rate with credit card payments increased by 5%.
Giving Anghami the confidence to push card payments
With complete confidence in the performance of its card payments, Anghami launched a campaign in the summer of 2020 to encourage its subscribers to pay using cards. "This is when we saw a big impact, with a significant percentage uplift in subscribers over the course of the campaign. It taught us that there is an appetite for credit cards across the region when it’s done well."
That exercise demonstrates the full complement of support that Checkout.com has been able to provide Anghami, explains Khairallah. Whereas many payment vendors simply offer a technology platform, Checkout.com’s value also comes from its people. And more specifically, in the case of Anghami, its people on the ground in the Middle East. "Checkout.com has a strong local presence and is focused on what's happening in the region."
Opening new revenue streams with optimized microtransactions
Checkout.com’s local knowledge and hands-on approach with customers was not just a smooth sales pitch. “We continue to get tangible support, from the everyday help to frequent business reviews which lead to implementing changes.”
Khairallah points to Checkout.com’s relationship with issuing banks in the region as having been particularly valuable. “Checkout.com facilitates this relationship and this has been a factor in the increases we’ve seen to our authorization rate.”
Checkout.com is now supporting Anghami as it opens new revenue streams in the form of in-app purchases. "This service will see us handling a high volume of microtransactions," explains Khairallah. "This is very different from the subscription payments we're used to. So we're leaning heavily on Checkout.com to optimize the performance and cost of these microtransactions. In this respect, Checkout.com is much more than a payment processor. We see them as our growth partner.”
Scaling payments at the speed of business
That said, great people without a brilliant product mean little. So Khairallah is equally effusive about Checkout.com’s platform. "The fact that, with a single integration, we can add new functionality and activate popular local payment methods is a big differentiator."
The aim now is to ramp up how many payment methods they can offer, not just credit cards. Recently Anghami switched on Apple Pay, mada — the dominant card payment method in Saudi Arabia — with Fawry in Egypt next in line.
Not only does Checkout.com’s platform make scaling easier; it also ensures Khairallah and his team only have to look at one dashboard for all their data analysis. "It’s become effortless to review performance and identify areas for improvement." So much so that Anghami’s finance team also now uses Checkout.com’s dashboard for their reporting and analysis.
"Creating a successful business isn’t something you can ever do alone," says Khairallah. "You need partners who are willing to take the responsibility off your shoulders. That’s what we’ve found in Checkout.com, its people, and the deep understanding and connections they have in the MENA region."