By Ismail Sebugwaawo
The UAE may be a little behind other developed countries when it comes to e-commerce, however it is rapidly catching up. But, how do we know when it is safe, and when it isn’t, to shop online?
According to the yStats.com MENA B2C report published in March, e-commerce is expected to increase from 2 per cent of total retail sales in 2014 to 6 per cent in 2019, with sales touching the Dhs10 billion mark at the end of the five-year period.
“There’s no doubt that online payments are becoming more popular among consumers in the UAE, and this transition is not only being driven by the growing number of e-commerce retailers, but also by the UAE leadership’s efforts to adopt smart governance”, said Marcello Baricordi, general manager for the UAE and global accounts lead at Visa MENA.
Baricordi described the UAE as one of the most progressive markets in the region with regards to safe and secure online payments. “As a country committed to adopting smart solutions and creating an infrastructure that supports ‘connected’ living, the UAE is well positioned as a lucrative and balanced market for online retail”, he said.
According to Visa , the global online payment fraud rate is less than 6 cents per $100 (Dhs367) spent. In the MENA region, the rate is even lower at about 3 cents per $100. However, there is no room for complacency as crooks are still out there. Baricordi said payment fraud usually occurs when card data is compromised and is accessed by criminals.
There are several different ways in which fraud can then be committed, including phishing (fraudulent emails), smishing (fraudulent text messages) and vishing (fraudulent voice mail). Another type of fraud he says is pharming -where hackers redirect you from legitimate sites and social platforms to an imposter website in order to ‘farm’ personal data.
But it’s not just shopping and banking where online transactions are becoming more popular as a recent report shows that 96 per cent of 337 important government departments have gone electronic, with most of these services, including visa processing and utility payments, being offered on apps.
And Ahmed Mohammed Al Hammadi, acting director of strategy and planning at the Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi, says it is very safe to pay utility bills, traffic fines etc, as safeguards are in place.
He said: “Government departments use the latest security and protection measures from reputable cyber-security firms to protect internet users and safeguard online transactions”.
And Baricordi said payment firms such as Visa also have robust security measures in place, such as Verified by Visa . “This password-protected authentication system helps to confirm the identity of the cardholder, and assures all the stakeholders in the payment process – banks, merchants and the consumer – that the transaction is not fraudulent”, he said.
Transactions are also protected by Visa Advanced Authorisation/ Visa Risk Manager, a combined fraud prevention solution that enables card issuing financial institutions to identify potential fraud at the check-out.