During 2001, Visa card numbers in the Middle East rose 31 percent to more than six million and spending went up 24 percent to just under $31 billion. The number of Visa transactions grew by 30 percent to more than 131 million. There was a 30 percent increase in the number of sales transactions in shops and other outlets, according to Visa International’s results for 2001.
According to a company press release, these growth figures underline the changing patterns of payment in a rapidly developing region and a real change in people’s lifestyles. Over the last five years, retail sales volume in the region has risen by 132 percent.
“When Visa’s Middle East office opened in early 1996, most people relied on cash and Visa cards were largely reserved for affluent international travelers. Since then, the banks’ determination to extend the benefits of modern payments has resulted in extraordinary growth and achievement in all customer segments.” Commented Peter Scriven, general manager of Visa in the Middle East.
He added: “Only a few years ago, card use was relatively low and largely confined to cash withdrawals. Today, Middle East citizens rely on their Visa cards for every kind of spending, from the supermarket, petrol station and bookstore to restaurants and clothes. “
Visa’s Saudi Arabian member banks reached the two million cards mark this year, while Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) both surpassed a million cards. There has been strong growth in the number of debit cards in the Middle East and credit cards are gaining in popularity in the UAE.
In the past five years, credit card numbers in the UAE have more than doubled with expenditure now exceeding $1.2 billion. Credit card transaction numbers have almost trebled and currently stand at 11.3 million transactions. Overall payment card expenditure in the UAE has topped $5.1 billion, a growth of 27 percent.
As CEMEA’s biggest market in terms of cardholder expenditure, Saudi Arabia recorded 26 percent growth in expenditure to $14.69 billion,,654,277 while card numbers rose by 25 percent to 2.231,,773 million cards. “Our direct presence in the market, following the opening of Visa’s representative office in Riyadh in October 2000, has fostered closer relationships with our members,” said Iain Jamieson, Visa KSA general manager Business Development for the Kingdom.
Kuwait registered steady growth (sorry, correa greater growth in card numbers than in 2000—21 percent—to297,500 ,750 1.134 million cards and an 11 percent increase in expenditure to $7.1 mbillion. Elsewhere, expenditure in Qatar rose by 19 percent to $655.,829782.5 million on 136,518 cards, whilst Bahrain witnessed a 16 percent growth in card numbers to 180,608. Bahraini banks saw a corresponding 13 percent growth in expenditure to $559 .,404 million.
Oman remains one of the fastest growing markets in the world for Visa and has continued to realize strong growth in expenditure—up 83 percent to $1.29 billion. Oman has also seen the number of Visa cards increase by 54 percent to 456,000. Five years ago, there were only 12,500 cards in Oman. Transactions at Points of Sale (POS) were up 64 percent last year in Oman.
However, Jordan has taken over from Oman as the fastest growing market in the Arab world, with card numbers increasing by 144 percent in the past year, to 618,622. In Lebanon, card numbers increased by 35 percent to almost 200,000, whilst transactions were up 42 percent at 3.9 million, and cardholder spending reached $632 million, a 39 percent growth.
Visa is an international payment brand. Visa-branded cards generate more than two trillion dollars in annual volume and are accepted at more than 25 million locations around the world, including more than 760,000 Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs). The Visa organization includes 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )