A significant majority of consumers in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) have switched to contactless card payments for purchases during March, a Mastercard study says. The switch comes as many countries in the region imposed social distancing restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Consumer polling by Mastercard looked at the changing consumer behaviours in 19 countries around the world paints a picture of accelerated and sustained contactless adoption.
The study has shown that a total of 70% of MEA region respondents say they are now using contactless payments, citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers. Six in 10 (or 61%) respondents in the region have swapped out their top-of-wallet card for one that offers contactless payment methods.
With the pandemic ongoing, 84% agreed that contactless payment is a cleaner way to pay, with 79% saying contactless payment methods have been easy to adopt. Contactless payments are up to 10 times faster than other in-person payment methods, enabling customers to move in and out of stores faster.
Nearly two in three, or 64%, respondents confirmed that the pandemic has led them to use less cash, and 81% said they will continue to use contactless payment methods after the pandemic.
In addition to prioritising physical safety, it is crucial to ensure that Egyptians can complete their everyday transactions amidst social distancing recommendations. The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has made important and supportive decisions in the wake of this pandemic, in addition to doubling the CVM limit to EGP 600.
The CBE has also allowed mobile network operators and banks to offer a digital self-registration service for mobile wallets, so consumers do not have to leave their homes. Mastercard has thrown its support behind these initiatives, which are part of the company’s efforts to facilitate digital and contactless transactions in Egypt.
It provides safe, secure and efficient payment solutions, while encouraging social distancing, said Magdy Hassan, Mastercard’s General Manager for Egypt and Pakistan.
In addition to encouraging contactless payments, Mastercard has worked closely with the CBE, its partners, and government entities, to make use of its expertise and technology in self-registration of mobile wallets in Egypt.
Egypt currently has over 14 million mobile wallets that allow consumers to pay bills online, shop and transfer money from the safety of their homes. Egyptian consumers had previously been required to visit a branch to register for the mobile wallet service.
However, the CBE’s decision allowing mobile network operators and banks to offer digital self-registration services for mobile wallets, accelerates the digitisation of financial transactions. It also provides safe, secure and efficient payment solutions for everyone, while encouraging social distancing.
Egyptian consumers can now self-register for wallets through trusted digital channels, including mobile network operators. More issuers are expected to allow for this feature in the coming weeks.
Mastercard data reveals a growth of over 40% in contactless transactions globally in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020. Of the total number of contactless transactions, 80 % are under $25, a range that is typically dominated by cash.
Basing its information on grocery and pharmacy trends, two areas in which many day-to-day essentials are purchased, Mastercard’s insights show nearly all regions experienced significant spikes in February and March. This comes despite a worldwide difference in how far contactless deployment has taken place and its use in daily shopping habits,
Mastercard also saw the number of contactless transactions grow four times as fast as non-contactless transactions in Middle East and Africa, reinforcing changing behaviours and consumer checkout preferences.
In the past few weeks, Mastercard announced its commitment to increasing contactless payment limits in over 50 countries worldwide, including Egypt. A CBE decision has led to an increase in the cardholder verification method limit to EGP 600.
Limit increases were part of Mastercard’s global efforts to make sure consumers, merchants and small businesses have the resources to safely pay, receive payment, and maintain operations during the COVID-19 crisis.