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COVID-19 Impact on Middle East & Africa Online Payment Methods 2021

The online payment industry in the Middle East and Africa continues to accelerate, especially after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.


After the lockdown, consumers adopted even more strongly the alternative ways of payments when shopping due to the fact that they were faster, more secure and did not require any physical contact. Included in the range of new emerging payments in the Middle East and Africa were cryptocurrency, biometrics, QR Code and others. Moreover, over half of consumers planned to utilize cryptocurrencies in the coming year, with over 65% of those surveyed willing to do so more than the previous year. Furthermore, almost three-quarters of consumers expect to purchase at retailers who are both online and offline.

Different factors influenced the countries’ adoption of online payments in general. Over 70% of consumers in the UAE preferred online payments since they save them money.

When it came to choosing an online shopping platform in Saudi Arabia, shoppers were mostly focused with better prices, with only slightly more than 30% of shoppers concerned with contact-free payment choices. In Israel, however, more than half of consumers preferred buying online in 2020 due to lower COVID-19 infection chances.

Card payments were one of the most widely used payment methods in South Africa and Egypt. Despite the fact that the value of card payments is expected to expand steadily until 2024 in the former country, the rate of growth is expected to decrease.

Mobile payments continue to grow in popularity.  In Jordan, for example, the number of transactions made via a mobile payment system grew in 2020, reaching over 1 million in December. In Kenya also, the number of mobile payments has continued to rise year after year, reaching over 60 million by the start of 2021.