Dubai – MENA Herald: The number of conversations surrounding mobile payments has increased in Middle East and Africa (MEA), revealed MasterCard today at Mobile World Congress. The findings were drawn from MasterCard’s fourth annual Mobile Payments study, conducted in partnership with PRIME Research, to identify expanding conversations on new ways to pay and offered insights into new mobile payments product and category trends, including Biometrics, Contactless Cards, Digital Wallets, Personal Payments and Wearable Devices.

The MasterCard 2015 Mobile Money Study analyzed more than two million original social media posts, along with more than 433 thousand reposts, over the past year across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Forums, Google+ and YouTube, including both consumer commentary and news-driven conversations. The study listed Nigeria, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Kenya as the top five countries in MEA in terms of conversation reach.

With a gross reach of 179.9 million users and a volume of 25,400 conversations, ‘Digital Wallets’ dominated social discussions on mobile payments in MEA. Conversations about ‘Digital Wallets’ increased by 111% from 2014 to 2015, driven largely by announcements surrounding the launch of Samsung Pay and Android Pay in Q1 and Q3 of 2015 respectively.

The most favorable conversations on social media centered on ‘Biometrics’, led primarily by MasterCard’s announcement on ‘Selfie Pay’ in the second half of the year and Samsung’s plans to bring fingerprint readers to lower-cost phones. Increasing interest in biometrics is expected to generate future opportunities as both lower- and higher-income consumers stand to gain from biometrics adoption and enhancements.

In the latter part of 2015, consumers in MEA took to social media to share information about using ‘Contactless Cards’ – recognizing the innovative solutions they offer such as MasterCard PayPass that scored high visibility across the region, with users sharing product information including how-to videos. Discussions were also largely positive in tone and gross reached 2.5 million users. The study also revealed that continued expansion in usage points for contactless cards in key markets such as UAE and South Africa has strengthened consumer interest in ‘Contactless Cards’.

MasterCard Send – the first-of-its kind global personal payments platform – was the primary driver of Q2 visibility for social conversations on ‘Personal Payments’ in MEA, following the service’s announcement in May 2015 and gross reached 1 million users.

While also largely positive in tone, social conversations on ‘Wearable Devices’ were the least visible when compared to the other topics, and were driven primarily across regional borders, with MasterCard’s announcement of new payment wearables at Money 20/20 in the United States and predictions about future wearables from Visa Europe generating interest in the region.