By Tamara Pupic
Kingdom's record increase in Q1 2014 is due to enhanced credit card penetration and secured payment systems.
Saudi Arabia has registered the MENA’s highest e-commerce growth rate in Q1 2014, according to the latest analysis by Visa.
The kingdom saw an estimated 43 percent overall e-commerce growth, comparing 2013 and 2014 data, the retail electronic payments network’s study revealed.
The Q1 2014 growth was driven by increases in both domestic and cross-border e-commerce, which saw a 67 percent and 36 percent growth over the same period last year, respectively.
Emerging as the leading categories for spending were general department store and airline transactions, followed by travel agencies, financial services and fashion retail.
Visa attributes this significant increase to the growing credit and debit card penetration in the Middle East region.
The total number of Visa cards in circulation in Saudi Arabia was 11,367,834 at the end of 2013, marking a 13 percent growth since 2012, with 10,037,658 cards being circulated in the kingdom.
Ahmed Gaber, country manager for Saudi Arabia at Visa, says: “The kingdom has been one of the leading markets in the GCC to have embraced electronic payments alongside rapid internet and broadband penetration, which has resulted in greater adoption of financial cards for e-commerce transactions.
“Growth of e-commerce in Saudi Arabia has also benefited from wider merchant acceptance, growth in the retail space and improved financial literacy among the wider population.”
An increasing number of banks in the kingdom have been introducing payment cards targeting specific segments of the market, including women, Sharia compliant cards and those aimed at frequent travellers.