RIYADH: Statistics released this week have highlighted the massive surge in the uptake of digital payments in the Kingdom, especially in light of pandemic restrictions on shopping and travel.
According to monthly data issued by the Saudi Central Bank, there were 25.84 million online sales transactions through the Mada system in March. The total value of sales during the month was SR 5.31 billion ($1.4 billion), a year-on-year increase of 196 percent.
The Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monshaat) also reported that the e-commerce sector received an investment of around SR 250 million during the first quarter of 2021, according to an article by the Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.
With shoppers having few alternatives when it comes to getting basic necessities, it is no surprise that the first-ever Mastercard New Payments Index for the Kingdom found widespread acceptance of digital payments among Saudi consumers.
The survey found that 94 percent of respondents are comfortable with digital payment systems such as biometrics, digital wallets and QR codes.
A year into the pandemic, research from Mastercard showed that the adoption of new payment technologies is rising and consumer appetite for it growing fast.
According to the index, 68 percent of respondents tried a new payment method they would not have tried under normal circumstances.
In addition, 92 percent of Saudi consumers said they have access to more ways to pay compared to this time last year.
Three-quarters of respondents said digital payment methods help them save money, while the same amount also said they are more loyal to retailers who offer multiple payment options. Sixty-nine percent of Saudi consumers said using biometrics to verify purchases made them feel safer.
“More than ever, consumers in Saudi Arabia are adapting and embracing payment innovations. Businesses, both big and small, must respond to this evolving trend. We are closely working with our partners and retailers to deliver secure and diverse payment technologies for the omnichannel generation,” J.K Khalil, country manager, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Levant at Mastercard, said in a press statement.