Old-fashioned cash losing out to plastic in the Middle East
The number of transactions made by Middle East debit and credit cardholders increased by 33 percent from 130 million transactions in 2001 to nearly 175 million transactions last year, representing an average of six transactions made every second, revealed Visa International.
Jordan took the lead as the fastest growing market in terms of usage, where the total transaction numbers doubled from nearly six million transactions in 2001 to reach approximately 12 million during 2002. This was followed by Lebanon with a 54 percent rise to total six million transactions, while Saudi Arabia grew by 40 percent and recorded over 81 million transactions during the same period.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Kuwait saw a 28 percent increase and recorded 27 million transactions for 2002, Qatar cardholder transactions rose by 11 percent to total 3.5 million transactions and Oman demonstrated growth with a nine percent increase to reach over eight million transactions during the year.
Further underlining the shift from cash to plastic payment, it was revealed that the number of transactions made by Bahrain and United Arab Emirates (UAE) cardholders at shops and other point of sale outlets outnumbered ATM and manual cash withdrawals. Bahrain cardholders conducted approximately two million retail transactions during 2002, representing 52 percent of total Visa card usage in the country, while the UAE cardholders conducted over 18 million transactions at points of sale that accounted for 58 percent of its total transactions.
A closer look at Visa figures illustrates that cardholders are using their cards more times a year than ever before. Although total Saudi card numbers remain steady at 2.2 million, Saudi Visa cards were used on average 36 times during 2002 – up by 40 percent from 26 transactions made during 2001. UAE came in second position with an average of 24 transactions per year followed by Bahrain and Kuwait with 23 and 22 transactions per year respectively.
A roundup of the other growth markets show that in Lebanon the appetite for Visa cards saw a rise of 55 percent to reach 307,000 cards. In Jordan, card numbers jumped by 49 percent to total over 920,000 and in Oman, card numbers grew by 30 percent to reach nearly 600,000 cards.
Visa-branded cards generate more than $2.3 trillion in annual volume with a global acceptance of 810,000 ATMs. The Visa organization develops innovative payment products and technologies for its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)