ecommerce and digital payment set for major growth in 2021
Mita Srinivasan
10x Industry

ecommerce and digital payment set for major growth in 2021

Connected Payments report shows that digital payment transactions have nearly doubled in the region since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

The Connected Payments report for Middle East & North Africa, Pakistan (MENAP) region reveals that the region, historically dominated by cash payments, continues to present a significant growth opportunity for the digital payments industry. Released by, the report shows that nearly half of consumers are likely to increase their online shopping over the next year.

The report draws insights from a regional survey, which polled more than 5,000 consumers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Pakistan.

The report reveals that 47 percent of consumers say they expect to shop online more frequently over the next year. Only 15 percent expect their online shopping frequency to decline, while the remaining 38 percent expect it to remain about the same. The likely surge in e-commerce and digital payments in 2021 is consistent across the countries surveyed, from 49 percent of the GCC consumers (including 45 percent in the UAE) saying they will shop online more frequently, to 48 percent in Jordan, 47 percent in Egypt, and 39 percent in Pakistan.

Online merchants can expect certain demographic groups to drive growth more than others, particularly the most affluent consumers (56 percent), those already shopping online at least on a monthly basis (55 percent), men ages 35 and older (55 percent), and those using digital payments rather than cash or bank transfers to pay for their online purchases (54 percent).

Sebastian Reis, EVP of Global E-commerce at, said, “While there has been a sudden surge in e-commerce and digital payments this year due to the impact of COVID-19, our report suggests that what we are seeing today is more than a temporary change in consumer behaviour. While this may present a major opportunity for businesses across the region, to leverage this shift in consumer behaviour and to succeed in what’s already a highly competitive space, businesses will need to offer not only the products and services consumers look for but also the best online shopping experience, including payment processes that are safe, secure, and convenient for consumers.”

The report also shows that the region’s consumers have embraced e-commerce nearly universally, with 90 percent saying they shop online, including nearly half (44 percent) doing so at least on a monthly basis. COVID-19 is driving a significant share of the current e-commerce and digital payment transactions in the region, as 40 per cent of online shoppers say they are buying and paying online because of the pandemic. Moreover, 45 percent say they are now purchasing products and services online more frequently than they did before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The pandemic is accelerating growth particularly in the online purchases of prepared meals (41 per cent report higher online purchasing frequency since COVID-19), clothing (37 per cent), groceries (33 per cent), and electronics (30 per cent). While online orders of prepared meals and groceries appear to have surged evenly among males and females, men seem to be driving most of the e-commerce growth in electronics, and women account for a stronger increase in online clothing purchases.

Preference for digital payments over cash on delivery or bank transfers rises significantly as consumers shop online more frequently. Among those who shop online at least once a month, 62 percent usually pay by card or digital wallet, versus 44 percent among the less frequent online shoppers.

Regardless of how one pays for their online purchase, the report makes it clear that the payment process is central to the online shopping experience in the region. Nearly half (48 percent) of online shoppers across the region say that a safe, secure, and convenient payment process is the most important factor for their online experience aside from price. Payment process ranks higher than fast delivery/shipping (32 percent) or an easy return process (15 percent).