Global Visa Study Reveals UAE’s Cashless Future is Imminent

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As the world enters the third calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic, small and micro businesses (SMBs) the world over are truly back to business. A new Visa research study, the ‘Visa Back to Business Global Study – 2022 SMB Outlook’, found that 94% of consumers in the UAE said they will continue to use digital payment as much as, or more than, in 2021. Moreover, 96% of SMBs surveyed in the UAE (vs. 74% globally) said accepting new forms of payments is fundamental to their growth, signaling that digital payments are no longer about pivoting and surviving, but rather finding growth in new digital realities.

“Payments are no longer about simply completing a sale. It’s about creating a simple and secure experience that reflects one’s brand across channels and provides utility to both the business and its customer,” said Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s General Manager for the UAE, Bahrain and Oman. “The digital capabilities that small businesses built up during the pandemic – from contactless to eCommerce – helped them pivot and survive and by continuing to build on that foundation, they can now find new growth and thrive.”

According to this year’s study, which surveys small business owners and consumers in nine markets – Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Russia, Singapore, UAE and United States – the consensus outlook for 2022 is one of optimism and intent to digitise even more:

The Path Forward in 2022 for SMBs in the UAE

  • 2022 Ushers in Optimism and Confidence: Ninety-three percent of SMBs said they are optimistic about the future of their businesses, up by 5% since the 2021 Visa Back to Business global study.
  • Accelerating Toward a Cashless Future: A majority of small businesses in the UAE (71% vs. 59% globally) said they already are, or plan to be, cashless in the next two years. More than half of UAE consumers (52% vs. 41% globally) plan to be cashless by 2024 and nearly all (99%) consumers see benefits of a cashless society.
  • SMBs Embrace Digital Payments – Even, Crypto: All small business owners surveyed in the UAE (100% vs. 82% globally) said they plan to accept some form of digital payments in 2022, including crypto, with 35% (vs. 24% globally) indicating a willingness to accept currencies such as Bitcoin.
  • eCommerce Buoyed Businesses: Of small businesses with an online presence, nearly all in the UAE (99%) attributed their survival through the pandemic to eCommerce, which accounted for an average of 58% of revenue.

UAE Consumers Set the Tone in 2022

  • Abandoned Shopping Carts In-Real-Life (IRL): Over two-thirds of UAE consumers (68% vs. 41% globally) saying they have abandoned a purchase because digital payments were not accepted, SMBs are wise to continue to grow digital payment acceptance.
  • Consumers Consider Embracing Global Marketplace: Due to ongoing supply chain issues, 69% of UAE consumers (compared to 59% globally) are willing to buy internationally. The most important factor cited to help them feel more comfortable with international commerce is positive customer reviews (55%). This aligns to 86% of SMBs (compared to 50% globally) that plan to increase cross-border sales in 2022. However, a majority (96%) of UAE SMBs find it challenging to accept and process cross-border payments, demonstrating demand for faster, seamless, and secure cross-border payment solutions like Visa Direct.

Digital Commerce Differences Globally

  • The Global Cashless Spectrum: Only 1% of small businesses in the UAE expect their business will continue to accept cash compared to 39% of Canadian and 31% of U.S. SMB owners saying they will continue to accept cash.
  • Enthusiasm for Small Businesses: Consumers in the UAE (60%), Brazil (52%) and U.S. (39%) intend to support small businesses even more in the year ahead.

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