Contactless Payment Trends in the UAE: Convenience and Safety

Explore the latest contactless payment trends in the UAE, where convenience meets safety. Discover how the Emirates is revolutionizing payment methods for a secure and efficient future.

According to global buyer sentiment data, more than 75 percent of people in the Middle East are currently using some method of contactless payment

  • 83 percent of UAE people say that contactless is their preferred method of payment. This is seen in contactless payment trends
  • In March, the number of contactless deals was a proportion of all face-to-face card transactions. This was over 100 percent higher in March 2020 than in March 2019 and is a major part of the contactless payment trends in the world these days. 
  • Contactless transactions in the Arab world grew four times as fast as non-contactless ones in the grocery and pharmacy categories

Contactless Payment Introduction

During March 2020, many nations, kingdoms, and Emirates in the Middle East imposed necessary limits on things like social distancing. A significant majority of people turned to contactless payments due to their convenience and safety for necessary purchases. In fact, more than 70 percent of people surveyed in the Middle East say they are currently. using contactless payments. This contactless payment trend is growing citing safety and hygiene as key factors. Consumer polling by Mastercard looks into changing consumer behaviors in many different countries around the world. This study paints a picture of accelerated and sustained contactless payment trends all over the world.

The act of running to the store for food, medicine, and other necessities has changed a lot. Shoppers and consumers around the world have had to adjust to a post-COVID world even as measures have been rolled back. and There are new challenges when buying daily use supplies for their families and loved ones. This change in consumer behavior is particularly clear at checkout. Thus, people express a wish for contactless, and voice concerns regarding cleanliness and safety at the point of sale. These new contactless payment trends are according to the new Mastercard study.

In Fact, Findings From People In The UAE Show:

  • Contactless Move to Top of Wallet – Ideas of safety and convenience have resulted in a preference for contactless and reminded buyers of the convenience of tapping on a global scale. In the UAE, some 76 percent of polled people have swapped their top-of-wallet card for one that is contactless, while 83 percent of UAE respondents consider contactless to be their desired method of payment.
  • Confidence in Contactless – The international disruption has led to increased concern from buyers on cash usage and good perceptions towards contactless due to the peace of mind that it provides. 71 percent of buyers say they are now using some form of contactless payment. During the pandemic, 89 percent agreed that contactless is a nicer way to pay, while 90 percent said it is more convenient than cash. Furthermore, 78 percent of UAE residents say contactless payment trends have been easy to adopt. Contactless payment methods are up to 10 times faster than various in-person payment methods. Thus, enabling customers to get in and out of stores faster.
    • Contactless is Here to stay. These contactless payment trends are in a sustained period in which customers are making purchases in a very determined way; it’s reinforcing contactless use in places where adoption is more mature, and it’s increasing use in newer markets. This contactless payment trend appears to be here to stay. Three in four UAE people (73 percent) confirmed that the post-COVID time has led them to use less cash, and 80 percent of UAE people said they will keep on using contactless post-pandemic.

As It Is Said

“The UAE government is making a great example in keeping residents safe and on top of this social distancing between persons. This should also apply to publicly shared things, like point of sale areas and checkout counters,” said Girish Ganda, General Manager, UAE and Oman, Mastercard. “Contactless is even now quite prevalent in the UAE, though conditions resulting from this pandemic are advancing consumer adoption further. UAE shoppers are increasingly recognizing contactless as a safer, more hygienic, and faster way to pay, especially since control over physical proximity is critical at that moment.”

Contactless Payment Trends: Tipping Point

Mastercard has been spearheading the great shift to contactless for years, championing the east, safe, and fast way to pay. As people increasingly seek out ways to fast and get in and out of stores without touching anything, Mastercard data says that there will be a 100 percent increase in contactless payments in the UAE in March 2020[1]. Globally, 80 percent of contactless dealings are under $40, a range that is typically dominated by cash payments.

While countries globally are at different phases of contactless deployment and usage for regular shopping habits, Mastercard’s studies on grocery and pharmacy trends—key areas where many day-to-day basics are being purchased – showed that almost all regions experienced considerable spikes in January and March 2020. Further, reinforcing changing behaviors and popular checkout preferences, Mastercard said the amount of contactless payments in the UAE, is a share of all face-to-face card deals. This was over 100 percent higher in Q1 compared to the same period last year[2].

Just recently, Mastercard announced commitments to boost contactless payment limits in more than 55 countries worldwide. These include in the UAE, where the bar was raised to AED 500. Limit raises were part of Mastercard’s international effort to make sure people, merchants, and Small businesses in Dubai have the capacity to safely pay, receive payment, and sustain operations during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

[1] Growth is calculated as the percentage rise in contactless payments, as a share of all face-to-face card payments. This is stark when comparing to comparing March 2020 to March 2019. Source: Mastercard Data Warehouse

[2] Growth is calculated as the percentage growth in contactless transactions. This is stark when compared to the first quarter of 2019. 

Survey Methodology

  • Online interviews of 17,000 people in 19 countries worldwide
  • 1,000 banked people per country in the United States Canada (North America); New Zealand, Singapore (Asia Pacific); UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of South Africa (Middle East and Africa); United Kingdom. Other countries include nations such as Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Russia, and the Netherlands (Europe).
  • 500 banked people per country in Brazil, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia (Latin America and the Caribbean)
  • The research took place between April 10-12, 2020
  • Nationally representative sample
  • Readable sample sizes of:
  • Gen Z/Millennials
  • Rich [defined at a country level]
  • Contactless users
  • Those with high levels of concern about Covid-19
  • Primary buyer
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