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COVID-19 Impact on Middle East B2C E-Commerce and Payment Market 2021

Unlike other regions of the world, the Middle East B2C E-Commerce market has developed slowly. Furthermore, the Internet penetration rate in the Middle East was in 2020 was estimated at 40%, far lower than the 80-90% penetration rate of the leading global regions.


In a pre-COVID-19 assessment, the value of the B2C E-Commerce market in the region was expected to increase by more than 20% Y-o-Y from 2019 to more than USD 20 billion by 2020. However, with the online shopping surge spurred by COVID-19, the estimated value of the market in 2020 was estimated to reach about USD 25 billion, with the increase continuing to reach a projected USD 45 billion in 2025. Just two nations, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia accounted for 70% of the region’s B2C E-Commerce in 2020.

The adoption of digital shopping in this region was quite widespread and consumers were more likely to choose online shopping and contactless payments during the 2020 pandemic.

In addition, over half of the consumers in the region chose digital payment when buying online in 2020, while only 36% chose cash on delivery as their payment method. In addition, in some countries, mobile commerce was also very popular.

For example, in the UAE, the share of mobile commerce increased by 13% between 2015 and 2020, and M-Commerce value was expected to increase at a compound annual rate of 19% from 2020 to 2023.

Also in the UAE, consumers are turning to digital payments for a variety of reasons, including convenience, transaction speed, avoiding human contact, consumer control and because it is an innovative payment.