Saudi cardholders continue to lead the Middle East as the highest spenders with total Visa expenditure reaching more than $19 billion during the year, a 30 percent increase compared to 2001.
This figure accounts for almost half of all Visa spending across the Middle East, which reached nearly $40 billion during 2002, and more than three times more than United Arab Emirates (UAE) cardholders who spent approximately six billion dollars throughout the year. Total Visa card numbers in the Middle East currently stand at 6.9 million, a growth of 16 percent.
Across other Middle East markets, Kuwait cardholder expenditure ranked second highest with eight billion dollars – a growth of 23 percent over 2001. Oman and Jordan both recorded a total expenditure volume of over one billion dollars, followed by Lebanon and Qatar, whilst Bahrain exceeded $500 million.
“Five years ago card usage was much lower and accounted for approximately six billion dollars per year,” said General Manager for Visa International in the Middle East, Peter Scriven. Since then, through various joint efforts with our member banks, Visa card expenditure has risen by 228 percent illustrating that consumers are increasingly more aware of the benefits of cards over cash.”
Although card numbers remain steady at over 2.2 million, Saudi cardholders are using their Visa cards more than ever before with cardholders spending an average of $8,700 per card throughout 2002 – this represents 32 percent growth compared to the same period in 2001.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Kuwait demonstrated the second highest growth in the region with a 13 percent increase in total average spend per card to reach $7,100. This was followed by a 12 percent increase in Jordanian cardholder annual expenditure to total $1,439 per card.
A further indication of Visa's increased popularity is the remarkable shift in spending patterns. The average amount spent for each transaction per Saudi card was $239, which represents a drop of six per cent from 2001. This was followed by Kuwait and Qatar where the average transaction value dropped by four per cent, indicating that Visa products are not just for big spenders, but also for everyday purchases.
“We have seen that the type of purchases Visa cardholders make has changed from the high cost sectors such as travel, jewelry and electronics to include more everyday items and services such as groceries and clothing,” added Scriven.
“The growth in retail spending is additionally complemented by a larger merchant network, providing cardholders with a wide choice of nearly 100,000 retail shops and service outlets across the Middle East that accept Visa products,” Scriven concluded.
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 )