Demand for contactless technologies surges in Dubai

Last updated: 20 March 2014

We have previously blogged about Dubai as a hub for innovative technologies, especially around GITEX, the Middle East’s ICT conference. We also know that customer loyalty is a focus, with Dubai playing host to a conference on Maximizing Customer Loyalty & Profitability in the Middle East.

We know there is business-level interest in emerging and innovative technologies – but has anyone asked the man on the street? We did.

While recent research from First Data has emphasized that there is demand for mobile payments in the Middle East, and that this is growing, our street survey in Dubai shows that there is overwhelming appetite for contactless technologies that go beyond cash replacement.

80% of all the people we spoke to said they would either ‘like’ or ‘love’ the opportunity to use contactless banking card technology on a regular basis. Even more still were keen on the possibility of multi-application cards, which support both payments and transport tickets, and support for this is highest among the youngest age group, currently the most frequent users of public transport. As many of them do not yet a banking card, the survey suggests that the age group 18-24 would be most likely to embrace to contactless payment cards.

When it comes to using contactless technology on mobile phones, interest becomes even stronger, with 85% of respondents who would like their phone to provide them with such contactless payment functionalities. Being able to use mobile NFC technologies for public transport, loyalty schemes and e-tickets for major music and sports events were all areas Dubai residents thought would be improved with these new payment and engagement technologies.

Maybe the younger generation in Dubai doesn’t like to stand in line? Or maybe they are aware of the advantages that embracing contactless technologies offers. With 61% of those in the UAE owning a smartphone, the potential for contactless payment adoption is huge.

Hence why there is a key conference taking place in Dubai this week: Cards & Payments Middle East. Many industry players have recognized the opportunities that emerging technologies offer to payments and other engagement tactics, and are capitalizing on this trend. We are contributing to the debate and our technology is also on display in the NFC village if you are passing through the conference. Stay tuned tomorrow for more information or follow Total Payments for up to the minute tweets.

As a final thought, another encouraging insight to come out of the research is that 95% of those surveyed on the street in Dubai said they had no concerns over the security of contactless technology. With ABI Research forecasting that 85% of payment terminals in the Middle East will be contactless-enabled by 2016, this consumer enthusiasm will be well-placed. The combination of high smart phone penetration, high levels of cash transactions and significant consumer enthusiasm make the UAE ripe for an explosion in contactless payments. Only time will tell if this proves to be the case.