The Middle East saw an overall 22 percent increase in online transactions during 2016, according to a new report from online payment service PayFort.
The fourth State of Payments in the Arab World report found growth was strongest in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, showing 27 percent, 22 percent, and 21 percent year-on-year growth, respectively. Meanwhile, the report identifies ‘Events and Entertainment’ as the fastest growing payments sector showing annual 33 percent growth from 2015 to 2016.
A total of $30.4 billion of goods and services were purchased online in the seven countries surveyed during 2016, the report said, increasing 22 percent on the $24.9 billion of payments made during 2015. The top countries in terms of dollar value and growth in value were the UAE with $12.4 billion of transactions and 21 percent annual growth in total amount paid online; Saudi Arabia with $8.3 billion of transactions and 27 percent growth; and Egypt with $6.2 billion of transactions and 22 percent growth.
Saudi Arabia was the fastest growing country in the airlines and travel sectors, showing 21 percent year-on-year growth in airline payment volume and 36 percent growth in travel and tourism. Egypt led the region in the growth of online shopping with a 32 percent increase in volume of payments. Meanwhile, the UAE was the fastest growing country in the entertainment and events sector, showing a 36 percent growth.
Security remains the top concern among those that choose not to pay for goods and services online, with more than 50 percent of cash-on-delivery customers surveyed in all countries stating that they would only switch to online payments if they were convinced that the payment method was secure. Cash-on-delivery was most popular as a payment option in Egypt (70 percent usage) and Lebanon (60 percent usage).
The report also highlighted the growing interest in mobile payments, with 50 percent of respondents in six-out-of-seven countries showing an interest in mobile payment apps. The report also showed that consumer usage of mobile wallets is widespread, with 33 percent of respondents in Saudi Arabia already using mobile wallets, compared to 27 percent in Egypt and Lebanon, 25 percent in Jordan, 23 percent in the UAE, and 17 percent in Qatar.