Eighty-four per cent of consumers in the UAE have said the security of payment facility offered on a merchant's website is the top reason they pay online with their cards rather than choosing cash on delivery, a survey has found.
About 64 per cent of respondents said they considered the privacy of payment data to be the most important aspect when paying for goods and services online.
Price was the least important consideration, with only 17 per cent of those surveyed choosing it, according to the poll conducted by the Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai and payment provider Visa.
Even while shopping in-store, 65 per cent of consumers in the Emirates said the security of the merchant’s payment facility was the leading factor when considering digital payment options, while 49 per cent picked guarantees and return policies, and 45 per cent chose safety and hygiene, the survey, which polled 1,000 people in February, found.
“That consumers value security more than price when it comes to how their personal data is handled are important insights for merchants looking to build and maintain consumer trust in their payment offerings,” said Neil Fernandes, head of risk for the Middle East and North Africa at Visa.
Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic spurred the adoption of digital payments, particularly contactless payments, because of heightened awareness about the spread of infection through banknotes and plastic money.
More than half of consumers in the UAE use digital wallets, according to a June survey by payments solutions provider Checkout.com. About 48 per cent of respondents said digital wallets could lead to a cashless society in a decade.
About 77 per cent of respondents to Visa’s survey have made a digital payment in the past month, and nearly half have used more digital payments in stores — especially contactless payments — and online since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the poll showed.
Seventy-nine per cent of consumers in the UAE said they would switch stores or online shopping sites and apps based on the payment methods offered, with most consumers indicating a strong preference for digital payments over cash, the survey said.
However, 34 per cent of consumers prefer using cash for tipping at hotels, restaurants or tourist locations and utilities.
About 85 per cent of respondents said they wanted to know how their personal information would be handled and protected before providing it to an e-commerce site, while 76 per cent of consumers said they would like to know how security technology worked to be able to trust digital payment methods.
Seventy per cent of consumers said they were confident about recognising fraud or a scam, while 30 per cent said they still struggled in this area.
“The fact that a third of consumers are still unable to identify a potential fraud reinforces the need for all players in the payments ecosystem to continue to work together to ensure consumers are protected,” Mr Fernandes said.
“Merchants must disclose measures to protect consumers’ personal information, provide clear information about guarantees and refund options, and display logos of banking and payment partners to build trust.”
Meanwhile, 75 per cent of consumers in the UAE said they were familiar with buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) programmes, while 33 per cent have used it in the past, the Visa survey found.
The BNPL business model allows consumers to make online purchases instantly and spread their payments over interest-free instalments.
About 65 per cent of those polled said they were likely to switch to stores or online shopping sites and apps that offered a BNPL option.
Twenty-three per cent of those surveyed said they felt comfortable using newer forms of payment, such as cryptocurrencies, while 17 per cent of respondents were not aware of cryptocurrencies, the survey found.