Six in 10 UAE consumers favour a cashless economy

New YouGov survey finds that more than 50% of respondents are relying less on cash since Covid-19

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Six out of 10 people in the UAE are in favour of the country’s economy becoming cashless, according to a new survey conducted by YouGov.

The market research firm said high-income households earning more than Dh25,000 per month are more likely to use digital payments, with 76 per cent of them in favour of this medium.

The findings suggest that consumers' behavioural changes spurred on by the coronavirus outbreak are likely to continue even after the pandemic. Speed, convenience and limited human contact were cited as the main reasons for the increase in cashless transactions.

More than half (52 per cent) of the survey respondents said they had used less cash since the outbreak of the pandemic, while 17 per cent said they had used it more often.

This resonates with the findings of a joint study in June by Dubai Police, Dubai Economy and Visa, which found that UAE consumers were likely to continue using contactless payments when shopping at physical stores and online even after Covid-19 subsides.

"By maximising performance and transparency in doing business while minimising risk and logistical bottlenecks, digital payments play a major role in the advancement of the knowledge economy at a macro level," Ali Shabdar, regional director MEA, Zoho Corp, a software development company, told The National.

"The UAE is a pioneer in FinTech in the region and we can expect further innovations in the industry thanks to the efforts of the government.”

Globally, Covid-19 is spurring faster adoption of digital payments and this structural shift will accelerate when the economy begins to recover, according to consultancy Bain & Company.

In January 2020, GlobalData, a data and analytics company, listed Finland, Sweden, China, South Korea and the UK as countries with the most potential to be cashless leaders over the next decade.


The YouGov survey, which surveyed 1,000 people in the UAE in July, found that men were more in favour of a cashless economy, with 67 per cent endorsing it compared with 55 per cent of women.

While shopping at physical outlets, almost eight out of 10 UAE residents consider it important to be able to make payments through credit or debit cards. Only five out of 10 people would prefer to make cash payments, while almost six out of 10 respondents used digital platforms such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and e-wallets.

Contactless payments are more in favour among high-income earners, with 86 per cent wanting to pay with cards and 69 per cent preferring to pay with digital wallets, the YouGov survey found.

The UAE is a pioneer in FinTech in the region and we can expect further innovations in the industry

However, the findings revealed that people in the UAE still prefer to use cash to pay for cheap items in physical stores, while debit and credit cards are used to make expensive purchases. For instance, when it comes to personal services such as hailing a taxi, getting a haircut, or hiring a window cleaner, seven in 10 people prefer to pay in cash, the YouGov findings found.

The survey also found that the availability of cash in the UAE has not been affected during the pandemic. Residents have access to cash from free ATMS, with 85 per cent saying they found it very or fairly easy to access cash.