Visa ‘Where Cash Hides’ research identifies categories in UAE where consumers still use cash 

  • According to survey respondents, around 20% of their transactions are still in cash
  • Cash is used more often in peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions, international money transfers and everyday spending; convenience, control and safety key motivators for using cash in identified categories
  • Visa’s Salima Gutieva: Significant opportunity to extend digital economy to more consumers and businesses in UAE 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 13, 2023: While the UAE is at the forefront of digital payments, around 20% of transactions of consumers surveyed is still in cash, according to Visa’s ‘Where Cash Hides’ research.

The research - based on survey of 3,400 of individuals and 30 in-depth interviews across UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, included questions about overall frequency of cash usage and specific cases where respondents would use cash more than other payment methods.  Based on these results, the report identifies cash-heavy categories and consumer drivers of cash usage and proposes easier, more secure digital payment solutions for both consumers and local businesses. 

Key survey findings

Cash in specific transactions: 

In the UAE, P2P transactions (43%) and everyday spending (27%) form a large portion of cash usage. 

  • Within the P2P segment, tips (55%), money exchanges between friends and family (50%), and international money transfers (40%) are the prime areas of cash usage.
  • Everyday spend like taxi (46%), farmer markets (44%), and grocery stores (25%) are mostly where cash is used. Other cash-heavy areas include events (23%), healthcare and beauty (23%), education (23%) and apparel and jewelry (21%).

Motivators for cash usage: 

  • Respondents’ perception of convenience (64%) was cited as the top reason they prefer using cash in the specific cases identified by the research.  Other reasons include perception of control and safety (39%), availing cash discounts (32%) and acceptance (29%).

Implications and solutions:

  • The study identifies situational cash usage, notably in rental payments, exchange houses, and farmer markets transactions. Efforts to introduce convenient, fast and easy solutions such as Visa Direct (P2P, tips and other disbursements, and remittances), and Tap to Phone (low-cost acceptance solution for SMBs, freelancers and taxi) will drive digital payments and increase card acceptance.
  • Encouraging mobile payments and contactless usage presents a pathway to increase digital payments usage for everyday expenses. This requires education on acceptance and security of digital payments for both banked and unbanked population.

Salima Gutieva, Visa’s VP and Country Manager for UAE, commented, “We see a positive trend in card payments in UAE, with a 62% wallet share that continues to grow. However, there remains categories of spend where consumers in the UAE still use cash.  This presents an opportunity to extend the many benefits of digital payments to more consumers, and businesses for a more inclusive digital economy. At Visa, we remain committed to working with the local payments industry - and in line with the UAE government’s cashless agenda - to accelerate the economy’s transformation and make a better payment experience a reality for everyone, everywhere in the UAE." 

For more information and details on the ‘Where Cash Hides’ Survey click here