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Fri 21 Aug 2020 09:36 AM

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How UAE small businesses, consumers have changed behaviours amid Covid-19

Nine out of 10 consumers in the UAE have changed how they pay for purchases due to Covid-19, according to Visa

How UAE small businesses, consumers have changed behaviours amid Covid-19

Image: Getty Images

Visa, the global digital payments giant, has published its Back to Business study assessing the dramatic shift to digital commerce in response to the pandemic, driven largely by changing consumer expectations for a safe and touchless payment moment. 

According to the study, 9 out of 10 consumers in the UAE have changed how they pay for purchases due to Covid-19, including shopping online when possible (59 percent), using contactless payments (52 percent) and not using cash as much (40 percent).

Contactless payments have become a driving differentiator. Nearly all (90 percent compared to 63 percent globally) UAE consumers would switch to buying from a store that installed contactless payment systems. Almost three in four (72 percent compared to 48 percent globally) UAE consumers wouldn’t shop at a store that only offers payment methods that require contact with a cashier or other shared devices.

Despite the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, nearly all (94 percent compared to 67 percent globally) small and micro businesses (SMBs) in the UAE are beginning to feel optimistic about the future of their business but estimate it will be about six months before their businesses are back to full operation.

SMBs in the UAE have shown an incredible willingness to evolve in the face of change. In fact, 94 percent of SMBs in the UAE, compared to 67 percent globally, have pivoted to keep their businesses on track since the outbreak.  Over two in five (44 percent compared to 20 percent globally) have allowed contactless payments for the first time since the start of Covid-19. Additionally, nearly three in five (59 percent compared to 33 percent of global SMBs) reported their business has accepted less or stopped accepting cash during the pandemic.

Despite their willingness to adapt to new trends, 92 percent of merchants in the UAE still have concerns about shifting their business online or increasing online presence (compared to 74 percent globally), highlighting the need for additional support to help SMBs transition to digital.

In terms of business operations, SMBs in the UAE are most concerned about data privacy and security (48 percent compared to 32 percent globally), as well as keeping their employees safe and healthy (48 percent compared to 27 percent globally). An overwhelming majority (89 percent) of UAE consumers, compared to two-thirds (67 percent) of consumers globally, are taking measures to keep their payment cards clean.

“Consumers are putting Covid-19 safety measures at the top of their shopping agenda and favouring businesses that do the same,” said Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s general manager for the UAE. “Historically, we have seen behaviour change at the point of sale as a gradual shift over time. But Covid-19 has created an immediate need for safer, more efficient shopping experiences both online and offline as consumers rapidly migrate to digital commerce. We want small businesses to know that Visa is here to help them navigate these new consumer needs and gain insights to make their businesses stronger both now and in the long run.”

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