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Bahrain and Saudi Arabia lead in contactless payments

Restaurants, supermarkets, government services, health services and department stores were the top sectors to record an uptick in cashless payments.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia lead in contactless payments
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Bahrain has been a leader in contactless payments, with a penetration rate of 75% last month alongside a 13% jump in ecommerce, reflecting a shift in behavior among consumers who previously transacted primarily in cash or were moderate card spenders. The cashless payment surge in Bahrain follows Saudi Arabia, which climbed the charts as the leading country in contactless payments, with a penetration rate of 94% of all digital transactions compared to 70% in other developed countries earlier this month. 

Data revealed by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) for August 2022 reported a 23% year-on-year rise in total transactions (point-of-sale plus e-commerce) to 13,928,613.

The banking regulator reports that the total cashless spend of $874 million (BD 329.8 million) last month was up 17.9% compared with August 2021.

The highest number of transactions carried out in August included the top five sectors – restaurants (4,715,702), supermarkets (3,139,553), government services (920,362), followed by health services (764,877), and department stores (592,268). These sectors recorded a month-on-month growth ranging from 3% to 33.3%.

The transactions in terms of total value had government services at $254 million, with restaurants at $99.2 million coming next, followed by supermarkets at $86 million, hotels and resorts at $47 million, and automobile dealers at $43 million – up 39.8% from July 2022.

The report shows electronic fund transfers in the kingdom increased during August 2022, extending the rising trend to more than 18 months.

Transactions using deferred settlement fund transfer service, Fawri, real-time fund transfer service Fawri+, and Fawateer services, which enabled the electronic fund transfer system (EFTS), continue to see substantial growth, amounting to a total of 21,983,622 last month.

Meanwhile, with the rise of buy now, pay later options increasing in Saudi Arabia, the percentage of youth willing to experiment with new methods (of payments) is about 69%. 

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