Dubai is hoping to become a cashless society within just a few years, and if that ambition succeeds, it will create many new methods of ordering goods, money transfer and shopping.

The general manager of Visa for the Middle East and Africa, Marcello Baricordi, says that rapid advances are taking place already that offer enormous advances for merchants, consumers and regional governments alike.

Baricordi sees a future in which payments are dematerialised more than ever by biometrics, with the end goal being more seamless customer transactions than ever before.

The process has already been simplified in Dubai, where customers can order anything they want via an app.

Payment is made once the transaction has been completed, and within hours people can have their groceries delivered without needing to even enter a supermarket.

However, the evolution of shopping could go even further.

Baricordi predicts a future in which your own fridge will be connected to the internet and will be able to order new stock when running low and even make automatic payments.

If this sounds too fantastical, Baricordi points out that there are smart fridges in hotel mini-bars that are already in practice and doing much the same thing.

In May 2019, Dubai’s Department of Economic Development partnered with Visa for the launch of a new customer education programme to promote digital payments.

84% of those responding to the survey said that they believed that credit cards were more secure than cash, with 87% saying that they had begun making more credit card payments online over the last couple of years.

Although 75% of payments in the United Arab Emirates are still made in cash, contactless payments are increasing exponentially across the nation, according to figures from Visa.

Two years ago, such transactions accounted for just 2% of in-store Visa transactions in the UAE, but this figure has risen to 30% for all such transactions made with Visa credit cards in the country this year.

Traditional cash transactions are beginning to be displaced by the new types, Baricordi claims.

The rise of contactless payments is also likely to benefit the UAE economy.

According to a research study by Visa and Roubini ThoughtLab last year, digital payments such as mobile payments and credit cards could result in a net benefit of as much as $2.2bn per year for Dubai consumers, retailers and the government.

The reduction of the use of cash could save consumers almost $200m in time, in addition to cutting down on cash-related fraud.

The benefit was around $1.5bn for businesses, with almost $500m possibly being saved by the Dubai government in factors such as administrative efficiency cost savings and increased economic growth.

Doing the same thing in less time means more sales.

Baricordi notes that 67% of the UAE merchants that already accept credit cards have witnessed a footfall increase and increased sales.

Visa is one of the largest providers of digital payments in the world – it is able to handle over 65,000 transactions every second.

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