Non-cash payments gain traction in the Middle East

The region is seeing fewer cash payments with 64 per cent of consumers opting for digital payments more frequently in the past year, a statistic greater than the global average of 61 per cent, according to Mastercard’s Payment Index 2022.

Non-cash forms of payment include tappable smartphone mobile wallets, buy-now-pay-later services, biometrics, payment-enabled wearable technology devices, digital cards, open banking, SMS payments, instant payment services and digital money transfer applications.

Nineteen per cent of those surveyed reported using cash less frequently, with 85 per cent having made at least one digital and non-cash payment in the past year.

Security was selected as a reason when using digital payments by 41 per cent of consumers, alongside convenience and access to exclusive rewards and promotional deals.

In addition, sustainability, social and environmental advantages are kept top of mind by consumers in the region, with  31 per cent of respondents citing them as reasons for making non-cash purchases.

Buy-now-pay-later applications are also increasingly popular, with 79 per cent of consumers reporting knowledge of such services and 45 per cent comfortable doing so.

Regular users of buy-now-pay later applications said they use services for emergency and large purchases and as financial planning tools to increase purchasing power and budgeting practices.

Consumers also reported wanting to link their personal account to various merchants’ and retailers’ accounts, with 81 per cent of those surveyed having continued or increased their usage of this method.

Account-to-account transactions allow for more control, flexibility and convenience of payments, said consumers.

Fifty-nine per cent also reported being comfortable using mobile applications to send money to businesses.

Besides mobile applications, facial and voice recognition and palm, hand and retina scans are of interest to consumers, with 84 per cent of consumers using or planning to use fingerprints for purchases.

Sixty-four per cent of consumers agreed that biometrics are more convenient than using cards or mobile devices, while 62 per cent reported having used biometrics to purchase at least one item in the past year.

Consumers are also increasingly turning to social media apps to make payments.

With such click-to-pay as their preferred payment concept, Gen Z are less likely to use cash when making purchases or shopping in-person than Gen X or millennials, said the report.