COVID-19: Most UAE consumers plan to try digital payment methods

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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According to a new report, ninety-seven percent of UAE customers plan to use at least one new form of digital payment over the next year, such as wearables, biometrics, digital currencies, or QR codes.

In a report derived from polling 15,569 consumers in 18 countries between February 26 and March 10, close to 1000 of them from the UAE, MasterCard stated that the percentage of users planning to use a digital payment medium in UAE was above the global average of 93 percent.

Two-thirds of UAE respondents and 63 percent globally said they had recently tried a new payment method they would not have used otherwise.

The report stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has driven customers to try “flexible new payment options to get what they want when they want it.”

Mr. Craig Vosburg, Chief Product Officer Mastercard remarked that “the pandemic made us think differently, partly out of necessity.”

After the outbreak of the pandemic, the use of digital payment methods has exploded as people stop using physical cash due to fear of contagion. According to Germany-based Statista, global digital payments are expected to reach $8.3 trillion in 2024, up from $4.4 trillion last year.

Mastercard said that nearly 88 percent of in-person transactions in the UAE are now contactless, as “most merchant categories are seeing an increase as a share of total in-person transactions.”

As compared to the same period last year, Mastercard reported approximately 1 billion more contactless transactions in the first quarter of this year. The report showed that nearly 70 percent of customers around the world plan to use a contactless card this year.

More than three-quarters of those interviewed in the UAE said that they prefer to shop at small businesses with both a physical and online presence, which is similar to the global average.

Nearly 78 percent of UAE respondents stated that they intend to shop at retailers that provide the most up-to-date payment methods and that they would be more loyal to merchants that offer a variety of payment options.

Five out of ten UAE residents said that they intend to use cryptocurrencies over the next year, with 63 percent admitting they are more open to using them now than they were a year ago, as interest in digital currencies grows. Mastercard announced earlier this year that it would begin actively supporting select cryptocurrencies on its network.

Mr. Girish Nanda, Mastercard’s Country Manager for the UAE and Pakistan pointed out that “we have also witnessed how small businesses too must be prepared for an omnichannel future. We foresee that speed and security will play an even more important role in delivering these needs and we expect continued growth of new solutions.”

In the UAE, 55 percent of those surveyed plan to use biometric authentication methods to make payments, and 68 percent of consumers believe that using biometrics to verify a transaction is better than entering a personal identification number.

In the UAE, the idea of digital wallets is also gaining traction. According to the report, 66 percent of customers are more likely to use digital wallets, and 57 percent of shoppers feel comfortable storing their card details in a single location such as a digital wallet.

Related: Mastercard to acquire digital ID verification company Ekata amid demand boom