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Online shopping gains UAE popularity
UAE residents have indicated a growing confidence in buying more goods and services online, however they have also expressed concerns such as security and budget management in using digital payment options instead of cash.
The observation was highlighted in a recent Visa survey during the UAE Card Security Week, a consumer awareness campaign to promote safe online shopping habits and educate consumers on ways to avoid payment fraud in the UAE. Launched by the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai and Visa, the campaign comes against the backdrop of growing adoption of online shopping and digital payment options, especially during the month of Ramadan.
According to VisaNet data, during the 2015 holy month of Ramadan, Visa cardholders showed an interest to shop online, with 19 per cent of spends during the month being through online channels as compared to 17 per cent in a regular month. Results from the survey, conducted on a sample of cardholders in the UAE to gauge their attitude and behavior towards online shopping, showed that over 57 per cent of respondents book and pay for flight tickets online, while 56 per cent pay utility bills, 38 per cent book movie tickets and 35 per cent buy electronic goods.
The results also showed a correlation between a rise in income and the frequency of shopping online, with 43 per cent of cardholders who earn more than Dh30,000 per month shopping online more than once a week. Overall, UAE residents spend close to Dh1,300 on average every month on online payments, including utilities and other government services.
"The online shopping survey highlights a strong trend towards increasing e-commerce activity among UAE residents, and we see this especially during Ramadan. With these trends here to stay, it is imperative that cardholders are aware about the growing risks of payment-related fraud. Cardholder safety is at the heart of Visa's business and, along with providing a safe and secure online shopping environment, we, along with the DED, are committed to educating our customers on ways to avoid falling victim to such scams at all times," said Neil Fernandes, head of risk management for the Mena region at Visa.
The online shopping survey showed that about one in 10 respondents have been a victim of online credit card fraud in the past. Of these, 60 per cent said that their card details were stolen, and seven per cent said their cards had been debited for the wrong purchase. About six per cent said their purchased product was not delivered, and four per cent had fallen victim to fake websites. Among those respondents who still prefer to use cash over cards, about 25 per cent said they would be open to switching to cards if they were assured of the safety and security of online transactions. About eight per cent also said that they would be encouraged to switch to credit and debit cards if they had the option of easier and faster checkouts - made possible by services such as Visa Checkout, which allows cardholders to set up accounts and securely save their personal information online, thus spending less time filling out forms when they shop.
"For the Department of Economic Development, a major focus of its efforts towards preserving the integrity and reputation of Dubai as a popular shopping destination is on enabling consumers and traders to protect their rights. We continue to create successful public-private partnerships to achieve our consumer protection goals and we are confident that our joining hands with Visa will help consumers in Dubai take advantage of the increasing opportunities for online shopping confidently," noted Mohammad Ali Rashid Lootah, CEO of the commercial compliance & consumer protection sector at DED.

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