The Saudi Ministry of Commerce has conducted close to 10,000 inspections in grocery stores across the nation in order to verify their incorporation and facilitation of electronic payments for their clients wishing to go contact-free. Beyond the confirmed digitization efforts carried out by establishments, Saudi consumers are also showing an overwhelming preference for e-payments over conventional methods, a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic yet one that is likely here to stay, well beyond the virus.
The radical shift towards electronic payments goes hand in hand with social distancing efforts and heightened urgency for asepsis. According to a global consumer sentiment data study conducted by Mastercard, more than 65 percent of the sample population, within Saudi Arabia, now uses some form of contactless payment, with 78 percent of them electing it as their preferred method of payment.
Long-term behavioral shift
Nearly two in three respondents, translating to 62 percent of those studied, confirmed that the pandemic has led them to use less cash, with 81 percent of them asserting that they will remain contactless even post pandemic, pointing to a long-term behavioral shift.
For greater, pre-pandemic context, in KSA the total user of e-payments doubled from March 2019 to March 2020.
An increasingly distant society
Consumers, despite the necessary lockdowns, must continue their vital purchases and logically want to do so as quickly and safely as possible to avoid exposure to the virus, which explains why between February and March, contactless transactions in the Kingdom grew three times as fast as non-contactless transactions in the commonly visited stores such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
Globally, 80 percent of contactless purchases remain under $25, a range that is typically dominated by cash and therefore widely spread germs. In fact, 80 percent agreed that the contactless route is a cleaner way to pay. Furthermore e-payments are up to 10 times faster than traditional methods, granting customers their wish to get in and out of stores faster.
Centralized system through MADA
Mada is the official sponsor for the project, and the only payment system in the kingdom which streamlines the efficiency of the initiative. Their payment transactions require no physical contact between the consumer’s payment device and the physical terminal. To make this type of payment, the consumer simply holds the contactless card, device, or mobile phone close to the terminal and payment information is communicated wirelessly via radio frequencies.