Over-50s more likely to use a credit card in the UAE

Cash may be king in the Middle East but the over-50s are more likely to use a credit card in the UAE to pay for goods and services.

That’s one of the findings from a first-ever global customer survey carried out by Ernst & Young, which polled 25,000 people of all ages and backgrounds in 34 countries in both mature and emerging markets.

The MENA region – Middle East and North Africa – saw some 4,000 people across nine countries questioned as part of the survey. The results, which included answers to questions about purchasing activities, preferences and perceptions over 10 different products and services, were collated and formed a further report, the 2012 MENA Customer barometer.

And according to the report, 77% of goods bought globally were paid for immediately, either by cash (39%) or through debit card or electronic transfer (38%). Only 20% preferred to pay by credit card.

Credit Card UAE

In MENA, 78% of shoppers paid immediately for the goods they bought, which is in line with the global percentage. But of those, some 60% settled transactions using cash. The level of credit card payments was slightly less, at 19%, while debit card and electronic payments accounted for just 18% of transactions.

The MENA Customer barometer report says, “Clearly a cash culture still prevails in the region, with consumers maintaining traditional payment methods through concerns over the security of card payments and long-standing habit. Efforts by governments have gone some way to counteract this: for example, the UAE introduced the Wage Protection System in 2009, requiring all companies to pay their employees by bank transfer.”

The report found that cash was very much a young person’s preference. Across all regions, the tendency to pay with cash reduced with age.

The report continued, “In the UAE, for example, twice as many over-50s prefer paying by card to paying by cash. In the MENA region as a whole, cash is preferred by 64% of 15 to 19-year-olds but by 51% of the over-50s; in Australia, the breakdown is 34% to 23%; and in India, 54% to 42%.”

The UAE bank HSBC, for example, and others such as Barclays, has done much in recent years to make personal banking services more readily available to the masses. While an HSBC credit card may offer consumers many advantages, old habits die hard, as the report clearly underlines. Credit card usage remains stubbornly low.

In the UK, cash is making a bit of a comeback, brought about by huge levels of consumer debt and uncertainty within the jobs market.

A recent report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found using cash to pay for goods was more common now than a year ago.

Even retailers found it 24 times cheaper when customers paid for goods using cash as opposed to credit cards.

The BRC report said at a time when many household budgets were under severe pressure, customers were using cash more often because it helped them manage their money and prevented them spending money they hadn’t got. Customers were also shopping more often but spending less each time.

Tom Ironside, British Retail Consortium Director of Business and Regulation said, “Customers have less money. They’re buying things only as and when they need them, shopping more often but spending less each time, and they’re more likely to be paying with cash.”


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