Posted on September 21, 2014

Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), the global leader in electronic payments has revealed  that during the 2014 holy month, cardholders spent on US$3.98 billion across all Visa products, credit, debit and prepaid. This represents, a 16 per cent increase in spend on Visa cards over the same period in 2013*.

The findings were released today in the Visa Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Ramadan and Eid spend report for 2014. The report analysed domestic and international (known as cross-border) data spend during the holiday period across 32 merchant sectors including fashion and electronics retail, travel and hospitality, telecommunications, hospitals and financial institutions, on all Visa products issued by banks in the region including  debit prepaid and credit payment cards.  

The data has revealed that shoppers spent big at the supermarket in the UAE, KSA, Egypt, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, with a 9 per cent increase over last year. Other key categories included jewellery stores, which saw– an increase of 21 per cent and family clothing, a category that grew 13 per cent in 2014.

Not surprisingly, given the push by Middle Eastern governments to electronify commerce, leading card acceptance institutions like government services and financial institutions**, registered a growth of 10 per cent and 6 per cent respectively in year-on-year transactions. Interestingly , the only category to sit in the top ten but decrease, but maintain a high growth volume, were building supply stores – with spend volumes decreasing 12 per cent -  suggesting DIY projects were not a priority this Ramadan. 

Part of that growth is thanks to the Financial Literacy programs  that Visa and its partner banks provide to card holders about the products that work best for them and give them a clear understanding of how they can take full advantage of the benefits and features of all Visa products, and how to manage their finances so that they don’t find themselves in financial difficulty especially during such occasions.

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Ihab Ayoub, General Manager MENA at Visa says: “Visa’s Ramadan and Eid Spend Report for 2014 has shown that consumers in our region are increasingly shifting towards an electronic payment culture. They have gained greater insight into our products and the benefits that Visa and its clients offer them. This trend is also supported by the adoption of e-payments by many governments in the region.  We saw a growth in spend in key every day categories meaning both residents and visitors see the value in using their Visa card at the point of purchase.

“Additionally, we have seen in the data a surge in the number of premium credit card holders with the upper affluent segment being one of the fastest growing sections of society in the region.  Findings from the Visa Ramadan and Eid Spend Report indicate levels of financial literacy improving, with people becoming more conscious of responsible credit card spending, while enjoying the safety and security of transacting with Visa.”

Visa continues to make steady progress toward providing more people in more places the opportunity to transact on the Visa network. The network’s flexibility enables Visa to meet the growing demand for electronic payments around the world by connecting new acceptance locations and extending the reach of Visa’s products and services to even the most remote areas. “As more people move from paper-based to electronic payments in the region supported by government initiatives to electronify the payments services, we are confident that there is an opportunity for Visa to encourage more people to use their Visa cards. Enabling this growth is the confidence in using our products which have the most advanced security tools protecting our customers around the world,” added Ayoub.

*VisaNet analysed spend data across key MENA markets: GCC, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. All figures are based on USD

**Includes automated cash services 

***VisaNet data comparing 2013 Ramadan and Eid holiday period (8th of July - 14th of August (2013) and 2014 Ramadan and Eid holiday period (29 June- 3 August)