The UAE is among those economies most rapidly moving away from being predominantly cash-based society, says a MasterCard report.
The study, entitled “The Cashless Journey” , which identifies Belgium (where an estimated 93 per cent of the value of consumer spend was cashless), France (92 per cent), Canada (90 per cent) and the UK (89 per cent) as countries where cashless payments are nearly ubiquitous, said with a trajectory indicator of 65, the UAE is among the faster changing payments ecosystems of those countries studied.
“The main reason for reduced cash share appears to be a substantial share shift from cash to debit cards between 2006 and 2011. The UAE’s share indicator score is 26, which indicates that only 26 per cent of consumer payments by value were made by non-cash methods,” MasterCard said in a statement.
The report, produced by MasterCard Advisors, tracks how 33 major economies are progressing from cash-based to cashless societies  and identifies new technologies, government programs and consumer preferences as key factors that are driving this shift, creating more productive and inclusive economies.
“With a readiness score of 69, the UAE has eliminated many of the typical macro-economic barriers of creating a cashless society,” said the report.
The study also notes that the UAE is among a group of countries where the respective governments have taken strong leadership in promoting electronic payments to support their social and economic goals. A key finding of MasterCard’s report is that of the $63 trillion in total global consumer spend in 2011, 34 per cent, or 21 trillion, was done with cash, with cashless payments accounting for 66 percent or $42 trillion.
The most rapid recent shift away from cash was observed in China, where cash share of the value of consumer payments is estimated to have declined by as much as 20 per cent between 2006 and 2011.
China (where an estimated 55 per cent of the value of consumer spend was cashless) and the UAE (26 per cent) are among a group of countries where the respective governments have taken strong leadership in promoting electronic payments to support their social and economic goals, said the study.
The study finds countries including the US (where an estimated 80 per cent of the value of consumer spend was cashless), and Singapore (69 per cent) are considered to be approaching a “tipping point” to becoming nearly cashless.
Emerging economies such as India (32 per cent), Russia (31 per cent) and Nigeria (10 per cent) are just embarking on their cashless journey — in many cases they are shifting cash share at a faster pace than their more developed peers, said the study.