Crypto and BNPL Are Top Middle East Fintech Trends: Visa Report18. November 2021
Over 80% of consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia reported that they would be willing to use crypto and buy now pay later (BNPL) services, according to Visa’s CEMEA COVID-19 Impact Tracker. This interest in what are relatively new fintech trends in the Middle East comes amidst the backdrop of rising online spending in the region.
According to the report, 64% of respondents in UAE highlighted an increase in online spending, while 87% said that they would continue shopping online beyond the pandemic.
Similarly in Saudi Arabia, 61% saw their online spending increase, while 90% would continue to shop online post pandemic, the report noted. Subsequently, consumer attitudes towards digital payments, consumer finance and crypto have demonstrated a largely positive outlook.
“Our research shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way the region’s consumers spend their money, with many of these significant behavioural changes likely to continue after the pandemic is over,”
a statement from Visa said.
Mobile payments is the most popular payment method in the Middle East
Consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are increasingly relying on online shopping for both essential and non-essential purchases. In this backdrop, digital payments continue to be the preferred way to conduct transactions, especially through contactless solutions such as cards, digital wallets and mobile payments.
As of August this year, over 50% of UAE and Saudi consumers reported increasing their credit and debit card usage, while prepaid cards saw nearly the same level of usage. Compared to this, 66.5% of consumers increased their usage of mobile payments and digital wallets in the UAE, and 60% in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, credit terms and instalments have also become popular. In both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, two-thirds of respondents preferred deferred payments through credit card instalments.
Crypto and BNPL emerge as fintech winners
BNPL is seeing growing interest from Middle East-based consumers, with awareness on the uptick. In the UAE, 82% of consumers said that they would be willing to use BNPL solutions, with 77% of consumers said they were aware of these services.
Meanwhile, 81% of Saudi consumers also said they would be keen to use BNPL, with 72% of these respondents saying that they were aware of them.
The increased awareness around BNPL solutions is a result of educational efforts on digital media, especially through social media, search engines and online advertising, the report said.
Awareness of crypto was also high, with 84% of consumers in UAE and 76% of consumers in Saudi Arabia saying they were aware of cryptocurrencies. More interestingly, nearly half of the survey’s respondents considered crypto as a viable alternative to cash.
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