Majority of GCC residents favor alternative payments

Survey showed over 16 percent of participants who highlighted cash as their preferred payment method would adopt alternative options

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Seventy seven percent of citizens across the GCC would opt for alternatives to cash and card payments, should they be available in their country, the latest YouGov survey commissioned by Cards & Payments Middle East, the region’s number one conference and exhibition for payment solutions, revealed.

Over 16 percent of all participants who highlighted cash as their current preferred payment method would adopt alternative options, should they be available in their respective countries.


The largest bank in the UAE, Emirates NBD that has consistently introduced new-to-market digital banking solutions to the region, agreed with the survey findings. Suvo Sarkar, Senior Executive Vice President & Group Head – Retail Banking and Wealth Management at Emirates NBD, said: “With banks strongly reinforcing the security aspects of alternative transactions through systems such as chip & pin cards and two factor, we find customers more willing to adopt digital payment methods. For the first time this year, we have seen our branch transactions show a declining trend, and a multi-fold increase in electronic and card transactions.”

Government identity cards (12 percent) and banking apps (17 percent) were among the top choices in alternative payment methods, along with mobile wallets (9 percent), indicating an appetite in the region for technological advancements in the payments industry and a desire to be less reliant on traditional ways to make payments.

Cards & Payments Middle East will take place from May 31 to June 1, 2016 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Cards & Payments Middle East identified that 29 percent of Emirati nationals are keen to use their Emirates ID cards to make payments, making them the highest demographic group in the GCC to want to do so, out of both nationals and expats. Omani nationals were the second most interested in embracing this method of payment should it be available, at 18 percent, indicating substantial opportunities in both markets.

Bhairav Trivedi, Chief Executive Officer, Network International, said “the UAE has been at the vanguard of digital innovation in transactions, with almost all government services moving online, making our lives digitally easier. At Network International, we strongly believe alternate payment solutions with complex underlying technologies but simple user experiences will result in frictionless and more secure alternatives to cash transactions – and that is exactly what customers want and need.” Survey respondents from the GCC also expressed interest in the other latest forms of payment including Samsung Pay, with 5 percent highlighting they would opt for to use this service should it be available in the region.

Mohammad Gharaibeh, Head of B2B for IM at Samsung Gulf Electronics, said “Samsung Pay is being unraveled across the globe with careful planning and integration with local card networks, banks, and merchants. With three layers of security, fingerprint authentication, tokenization and Samsung KNOX, Samsung Pay will revolutionize the consumer industry, providing consumers a way to pay almost anywhere they can swipe or tap a card.”

Joseph Ridley, General Manager of Cards & Payments Middle East at Terrapinn, said: “These results highlight a market for alternative means of payment across the GCC, however there’s a lack of education on what options are available. Cards & Payments Middle East provides a platform for international and regional players to explore the potential of the market, as well as showcase the latest international advancements in the payments industry to stakeholders within the region.”

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on May 25, 2016.

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