Debit cards for online purchases have become a preferred option with online shoppers increasingly using debit cards when shopping online. Results of the MasterCard Consumer Lifestyles survey for the second half of 2006 have revealed that 76% of consumers surveyed in the Middle East & Levant have Internet connection and 51% prefer to pay for their online purchases via credit and, more increasingly, debit cards either at work or at home.
The MasterCard Consumer Lifestyles survey is part of the bi-annual MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence, a survey commissioned by MasterCard Worldwide across South Asia, Middle East & Africa (SAMEA). The Consumer Lifestyles survey seeks to understand perceptions, choices and concerns that people have with regard to a number of lifestyle choices.
Across the region, consumers prefer to pay for purchases on the Internet with their credit cards (51%), followed by debit cards (29%). The use of debit cards has increased steadily from 9% in the first half of 2006 to 29%. At first glance, credit cards seem to be the preferred choice for online shopping and while the use of credit cards has grown overall, the rate of growth of debit cards has been higher.
Great potential can be seen in the internet shopping purchase penetration that to-date remains relatively low and therefore offers great opportunities for online retailers. On a market basis, the percentage of consumers surveyed in Egypt and Lebanon who are purchasing online has increased from 1% to 7% and from 26% to 32% respectively. In Kuwait, 13% (vs. 20%) of the surveyed consumers opt for online purchases. A similar decrease can be seen in Saudi Arabia, with only 1% (vs. 12%) and in the UAE with 19% (vs. 25) of consumers saying that they will make purchases over the Internet.