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Cash is still king for majority of UAE consumers

Only 15% of consumers who buy online pay with cards

Dubai: Despite all of the talk about paperless transactions, e-commerce or innovations in the financial markets, cash is still king.

The majority of consumers in the UAE are not comfortable paying their new smartphone, perfume, toilet paper and other everyday essentials with plastic, a new study suggests.

Awok.com, an online shopping store in Dubai that sells all kinds of consumer goods, from cameras, phones to kitchen appliances, has been tracking trends in the retail habits of consumers in the UAE.

The company found that among those who buy stuff online, 85 per cent would rather pay cash on delivery, while only 15 per cent opt to use their credit or debit card.

These online shoppers, majority of whom are presumably keeping a stash of cash in their wallets at all times, are mostly men (76 per cent) and between 25 years and 34 years of age.

They spend an average of Dh500 on every purchase.

While online shopping is increasingly becoming popular, consumers in the UAE are quite not ready to fully embrace the culture of cashless payments due to security concerns.

"There is still a huge disconnect in trust for online shopping versus trust for online payment," Ulugbek Yuldashev, managing director of awok.com, told Gulf News.

"Consumers are still uncomfortable sharing their banking details online due to fear of being defrauded."

As to what they mostly shop for online, statistics showed that the most searched categories are mobile phones, tablets, watches, jewellery and perfumes.

Consumers electronics, preferred by 57 per cent of the customers, top the list of popular items,  followed by home and kitchen appliances (14 per cent), apparel and accessories (10 per cent), other categories (10 per cent), health and beauty products (5 per cent) and photography and cameras (4 per cent).

The majority of online customers (52 per cent) use their smartphones to shop, while a significant number (44 per cent) place orders through a desktop and a small number (4 per cent) through a tablet.

Payments experts have long noted the slow uptake of cashless payments not just in the UAE but in many markets around the world.

In 2009, 62.4 per cent of total consumer payments were made in cash, compared to 4.9 per cent for card transactions.

Experts had earlier attributed the trend to the low levels of investment in the payment systems infrastructure and concerns over credit card debt and security.

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