Saudi eCommerce rise 43% in Q1 of 2014, highest growth rate in the MENA region

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has registered a record overall growth of 43% in eCommerce in Q1 of 2014 compared to the same period last year, making it the highest growth rate in the MENA region, according to estimates by Visa.

Saudi eCommerce rise 43% in Q1 of 2014, highest growth rate in the MENA region
Saudi eCommerce rise 43% in Q1 of 2014, highest growth rate in the MENA region

The overall growth was driven by increases in both domestic and cross-border eCommerce saw a 67% and 36% growth over the same period last year, respectively.  Emerging as the leading categories for spending were general department store and airline transactions, followed by travel agencies, financial services and fashion retail.

Visa attributes this significant increase to the growing credit and debit card penetration in the Middle East region coupled with increasing consumer confidence in the Verified by Visa secure payment systems which allows customers to store multiple cards in a personal digital wallet in order to simplify online transactions and preserve sensitive banking information.  According to Visa, this eCommerce and mCommerce protection service is tailored to the evolving ways of payments and designed to meet customer needs for supreme transaction security.

The total number of Visa cards in circulation in Saudi Arabia was 11,367,834 at the end of 2013. Visa registered a 13% growth since 2012, with 10,037,658 cards being circulated in KSA.

Ahmed Gaber, Country Manager – Saudi Arabia, Visa, says: “The Kingdom has been one of the leading markets in the GCC to have embraced electronic payments alongside rapid internet and broadband penetration, which has resulted in greater adoption of financial cards for eCommerce transactions.

“Growth of eCommerce in Saudi Arabia has also benefited from wider merchant acceptance, growth in the retail space and improved financial literacy among the wider population.”

Visa says it’s committed to cardholders’ security and building their trust by employing multiple layers of security which work together to help prevent, detect and respond to fraud.

With technological innovations and advances in risk management, fraud rates have declined by more than two-thirds in the past two decades, according to Visa.

An increasing number of banks in the Kingdom have been introducing payment cards targeting specific segments of the market, including women, Sharia compliant cards and those aimed at frequent travellers.

This encouraging growth of payment cards is being fuelled by the leading Saudi banks which offer Sharia compliant products and services which are extremely attractive to consumers in KSA.

Visa says it’s committed to ensuring cardholder security at all levels, by establishing relationships directly with eCommerce merchants to process their online payments to streamline fraud management and simplify payment security.

As of today, Visa’s reach and relationships extend to more than 400,000 large and small merchants.

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