Mastercard Study Shows Consumers in Middle East & Africa Move to Contactless Payments for Everyday Purchases, Seeking Touch-Free Payment Experiences
During March, as many countries in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) imposed necessary restrictions on social distancing, a significant majority of consumers turned to contactless card payments for necessary purchases. 70 percent of respondents in the MEA region say they are now using contactless payments, citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers. Consumer polling by Mastercard, studying changing consumer behaviors in 19 countries around the world, paints a picture of accelerated and sustained contactless adoption.
The act of running to the store for eggs, medicine and other necessities has changed dramatically. Shoppers around the world have had to adjust to social distancing measures and other new challenges when buying everyday supplies for their families and loved ones. This shift in consumer behavior is particularly clear at checkout, as people express a desire for contactless, and voice concerns over cleanliness and safety at the point of sale, according to the new Mastercard study. In fact, findings from respondents in the Middle East & Africa show:
- Contactless Move to Top of Wallet – Perceptions of safety and convenience have spurred a preference for contactless cards and reminded consumers of the convenience of tapping on a global scale. Six in 10 (61 percent) respondents in the region have swapped out their top-of-wallet card for one that offers contactless.
- Confidence in Contactless – The global disruption has led to increased concern from consumers on cash usage and positive perceptions towards contactless due to the peace of mind that it provides. 70 percent of respondents in the region say they are now using some form of contactless payment. Amidst the pandemic, 84 percent agreed that contactless is a cleaner way to pay. Furthermore, 79 percent said contactless payment methods have been easy to adopt. Contactless payments are up to 10 times faster than other in-person payment methods, enabling customers to get in and out of stores faster.
- Contactless is Here to Stay – We are in a sustained period in which consumers are making purchases in a very focused way; it’s reinforcing contactless use in markets where adoption is more mature, and it’s stimulating use in newer markets. This trend appears to be here to stay. Nearly two in three respondents (64 percent) confirmed that the pandemic has led them to use less cash, and 81 percent said they will continue to use contactless post-pandemic.
“It has been our continuous mission to work closely with our partners and stakeholders to provide new and innovative payment methods, most importantly expanding the contactless payments in recent years. In the wake of the pandemic, contactless have become not just a trending method of transacting but a fundamental necessity like never before, aiding our efforts to accelerate the shift of consumer behavior for a safer, more secure experience that is in line with global and local health recommendations,” said Ramzy Al Amary, Mastercard’s Cluster Head for Levant.
“Looking at the Q1 2020 results compared to the same period last year, we’ve seen a 17% positive growth in contactless transactions in a market where contactless acceptance is dominant within the key and relevant merchant categories (e.g. quick service restaurant and coffee shops).”
Contactless Tipping Point
Mastercard has been spearheading the worldwide shift to contactless for years, championing the simple, safe and fast way to pay. As consumers increasingly seek out ways to quickly get in and out of stores without touching terminals, Mastercard data reveals over 40 percent growth in contactless transactions globally in the first quarter of 2020. Further, 80 percent of contactless transactions are under $25, a range that is typically dominated by cash.
While countries worldwide are at different stages of contactless deployment and usage for daily shopping habits, Mastercard’s insights on grocery and pharmacy trends – two areas where many day-to-day essentials are being purchased – showed that nearly all regions experienced significant spikes in February and March. Further, reinforcing changing behaviors and consumer checkout preferences, Mastercard saw the number of contactless transactions grow four times as fast as non-contactless transactions in Middle East and Africa at grocery stores and pharmacies .
In the past few weeks, Mastercard announced commitments to increase contactless payment limits in more than 50 countries worldwide, including Lebanon, where a decision led to an increase of the cardholder verification method limit to $100. Limit increases were part of Mastercard’s global effort to make sure consumers, merchants and small businesses have the resources to safely pay, receive payment, and maintain operations during the COVID-19 crisis.