Cash or card
In making those less frequent visits to ATMs to pull out cash, UAE consumers are veering towards digital or mobile led payments. Image Credit: Pexels

Dubai: Ditch the ATM - consumers in the UAE are using their cash withdrawal cards for less than half of their transactions, with the majority taking place at point-of-sale terminals or online.

This is based on a sample survey of those who were using ATM withdrawals for almost all their cash needs in January last year... before the pandemic became apparent in the region, according to Network International, the payments processing company.

"The long-term structural trends toward digital payment acceptance continue apace, with an acceleration across the region," said Simon Haslam, who is stepping down as CEO later this month. "Whilst we remain cautious around the development of the pandemic, there are signs of improving consumer spending, underpinning our confidence in our ability to take advantage of the exciting opportunities on offer in the world’s most underpenetrated markets.”

Network International is trying to make headway in Africa, through a mix of acquisition and organic growth.

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Back to '19

In the UAE, "direct acquiring TPV (total processing volume) has fully recovered to 2019 levels, supported by strong e-commerce spending, while international volumes also benefitted from a pick-up in tourism over the holiday period," he added.

The company is projecting full-year 2020 revenues of $284 million, which is ahead of guidance.But fourth quarter revenues are likely down 19 per cent year-on-year, "although absolute revenues were higher than Q3, reflecting the continuing recovery in card and digital transactions across our markets, and particularly encouraging trading in December."