UAE consumers see rising financial threats in digital age
Almost four in 10 UAE consumers have said that they experienced online fraud attempts in the past year, as the popularity of digital payments in the country continues to grow while the use of cash continues to decline.
According to the findings of the ‘2021 Stay Secure’ survey launched on Monday by Visa, Dubai Police, and Dubai Economy (DED), there was a 75 per cent drop in Cash on Delivery (CoD) recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic, as consumer trust in digital payments continues to rise. Consumers across the emirates said that they prefer them over cash because of improved technology and security measures.
Consumer feedback also reinforces the belief that there is no reversal of this trend, with 40 per cent of consumers saying they are less likely to use CoD and 45 per cent are more likely to use contactless payment methods in the future.
Ahmad Al Zaabi, director of Consumer Protection in Dubai Economy, said that shopping in Dubai presents “a remarkable opportunity for retail innovations” as it involves a vast and varied customer demographics and businesses.
“At Dubai Economy we focus on making shopping in the city a pleasant experience and we have leveraged every opportunity, including the increase in online shopping in the aftermath of Covid-19, to encourage consumers to enjoy the benefits of cashless and contactless shopping,” he said. “The partnership with Visa enables us to track consumer behaviour and we are delighted to see confidence in digital payments rising steadily, which in turn will accelerate the ongoing digital transformation in Dubai.”
The survey also showed that 63 per cent of consumers have a high level of confidence in digital payments, such as contactless cards and mobile wallets, for shopping in-store and payment on delivery. Top reasons consumers gave for their trust in contactless include convenience, speed, control in the form of the card or mobile never leaving their hand during the transaction, avoiding human touch, and innovative ways to pay.
However, the survey also sheds light on consumers' experiences with fraud, with 39 per cent of UAE consumers admitting that they have experienced an online fraud attempt. In addition, 27 per cent of consumers have experienced phishing, while just under 20 per cent said that they have experienced credit card fraud, and 17 per cent said that they received counterfeit goods.
Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jalaf, director of Criminal Investigation Department in Dubai Police, said that as people spend more and more time online – including many for the first time, fraudsters are using this as an opportunity to exploit consumers’ fears and lack of knowledge. “We strongly believe that government authorities, the private sector and local communities all have an important role to play in raising awareness among UAE residents.”
According to a recent survey by MoneyTransfers.com, 56 per cent of Emiratis trust banks and financial service providers with their personal data. This places the UAE at the seventh position globally among countries that trust banks and financial service providers with their personal data. Poland ranked first on the list, with 85 per cent of their population trusting banks and financial service providers with their personal data.
Neil Fernandes, Visa's head of Risk for Middle East and North Africa, said that as consumers shift online, fraudsters have sought opportunities to exploit how people pay for goods and services.
“This is why constant consumer education is so much more important than ever before,” he said. “The fact that one in two consumers surveyed would contact law enforcement in the event of fraud is a credit to the diligent efforts of our partners Dubai Police and Dubai Economy, who are committed to keeping consumers safe and empowering them to use digital payments and online channels with confidence. However, as an industry we cannot afford to let our guard down.”
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