The Middle East and Africa are the last parts of the world to undergo a large-scale shift from cash to digital payments, according to Simon Mark Haslam, the CEO of UAE-based payment solutions provider Network International.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Haslam said that Network International estimates that approximately 85 percent of transactions in the Middle East and Africa take place in cash.
Even in Dubai, Haslam said that about 50 percent of transactions are still in cash.
Haslam added, however, that he believes the region is on the cusp of a transition from cash to digital payments.
“We have a large population. We have sustained economic development, and of the population a lot of them are relatively young,” he said.
“If you combine that with rising disposable income and improving economies, that means the region is ripe for transition. It has the perfect conditions.”
Haslam said that the conditions are similar to those previously experienced in Eastern Europe, Latin America and China, which has seen non-cash payments rise from about 10 percent a decade ago to 40 percent.
“It’s where you’ve had those conditions, sizeable and young populations and improving economies, that you’ve seen that shift from cash to digital payments,” he added. “This is the last region in the world that has yet to undergo that shift.”
Network International processed approximately 680 million transactions across the Middle East and North Africa in 2018 and just under $40 billion in volume.For all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.