The coronavirus has drastically changed consumer behaviour in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with people now heavily relying on online shopping and contactless payment, said Akshay Chopra, head of Visa's Innovation and Design in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at a webinar on Monday.
Discussing future retail experiences amid the coronavirus crisis, Chopra said two out of three people in MENA have shopped online. The ratio is "huge" when compared to global levels, he added, stressing that e-commerce is witnessing a boom in the region, especially in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, driven by the health crisis, staying at home, and the decline in incomes.
E-commerce activities doubled in Egypt since the outbreak of the virus, with a focus on non-food products, such as healthcare products, accessories, electronics, and home improvement products.
“Despite the e-commerce boom in the region, physical retail still dominates the market. Merchants should start adopting online shopping and contactless payment instruments to be able to deal with the new normal of consumer behaviours and the challenges the pandemic poses,” said Chopra at the webinar attended by Ahram Online.
According to Visa figures, 80 percent of the UAE market has adopted contactless payment through banking cards and mobile payments, Chopra said, adding that 90 percent of UAE stores have switched to contactless payment instruments.
He stated that 75 percent of Visa’s clients intend to continue using contactless payment instruments and online shopping after the pandemic crisis is over.
Visa has allocated $200 million to help small businesses grow stronger amid the harsh economic repercussions of the coronavirus, Chopra added.
Visa played a video of its new application at the webinar. Loans, deposits, payments, and charity sums can be transferred via the application to avoid using cash, particularly amid the ongoing crisis.
Chopra pointed out that Visa deals with 61 million merchants across the world.