Dubai – MENA Herald: Mobile phones are the most commonly used device among consumers in the UAE and more than half of all consumers (59%) prefer using their smartphones over any other device to make payments, the new Mastercard Impact of Innovation Study reveals.
The study surveyed 23,000 consumers in 23 different countries across the Middle East, Africa and Europe about their attitudes to digital technology. It found that while in Africa and the Middle East over 70% said they were ready to pay with their smartphones, Western Europeans have some way to go – only two fifths (40%) said so. However, when asked about new ways to pay, consumers across all regions chose their smartphone as an alternative to the plastic card.
The study was released on the sidelines of the Mastercard Innovation Forum 2016, which opened today in Budapest, Hungary with the participation of more than 500 attendees from the Middle East and Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.
“The study points to how digital technology is reshaping the payment landscape in the UAE and impacting all areas of everyday life,” said Khalid Elgibali, Division President for Middle East and North Africa, Mastercard. “Smartphones have become an indispensable part of consumers’ daily lives and this has given rise to a new breed of mobile-first and mobile-only users, who rely on their phones for a variety of purposes including making payments. The findings of the study underscore this growing consumer appetite for new and better ways to pay. The trend of consumers replacing cash and cards with phones also affirms the UAE’s reputation as one of the most tech-ready countries in the world.”
On the whole, consumers in the UAE have a positive attitude towards digitalization and innovation and are optimistic about the potential of digital technologies to improve their lives, the study showed.
Public education, healthcare and public transport were identified as the areas where improvements in digital services are most needed. Guarantees for data protection and education and awareness on both usage and advantages of digital services, meanwhile, were cited by study respondents as the most important factors for boosting digital penetration in the UAE.
Speed, convenience and simplicity are the main attractions for consumers to shop online as well as to use payment applications. The study found that education has the strongest influence on the usage of digital services, with emailing, Internet telephony and social media are all being used by the highly educated in a significantly higher ratio.
Notably, two out of five consumers in the UAE call themselves ‘eager promoters’ of new technology – a relatively high share compared to other countries. People in the Middle East and Africa were generally found to demand more innovation in all areas.
Consumers positive on the future of technology
Almost two thirds (60%) across regions think digital innovations are a good thing, and have a positive outlook on the future of technology. Only 5% of people say they think digital innovations are having a negative impact.
The study results also indicate that consumers who live in technologically less developed countries tend to be more enthusiastic about digital innovation than in markets where it is readily available. Western Europe has the largest ratio of those resistant to digital change (17%), while Central and Eastern European countries and those in the Middle East and Africa have the highest number who actively embrace new technology.
While enthusiastic about innovation, consumers across regions want security, especially when it comes to making payments. Consumers unanimously agreed that bank account security is their absolute priority when it comes to digital payments, followed by the security of their personal data. They also value the speed and simplicity of the payment process.