Financial services, UAE

Over 60% of UAE consumers use unsecured WiFi when shopping online

The Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai and Visa have launched a consumer education campaign that aims to promote safe card usage and provide consumers with tips and advice to protect themselves against payment-related fraud.

Under the initiative, which is titled “Security Week,” Visa and DED surveyed consumers across the UAE regarding eCommerce and digital payments, providing compelling insights into their experiences, attitudes and behaviours.

More than two-thirds of UAE shoppers are now comfortable with online shopping (66 percent) and online payments (government payments, utility bills) (70 percent). The survey identifies where shoppers can improve their payments security – and Visa’s tips, posts and videos throughout the week will show them how to do this as part of the #VisaSecurityWeek social media campaign.

Ahmad Al Zaabi, Director of Consumer Protection in the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection sector, DED, said, “Digital payments are becoming more common in the UAE, as the Security Week research demonstrates. Education remains key to building consumer confidence in using existing and new payment technologies to helping them maximize the potential of the UAE’s retail sector, for both eCommerce and in-store environments. The Security Week initiative will once again play a major role in educating consumers on the benefits of digital payments and about how to stay safe when shopping.”

According to the survey, the majority of shoppers in the UAE are now frequent online shoppers, and that figure is as high as 81 percent for Emiratis. It also noted that new payment technologies are capturing consumers’ imaginations, with the vast majority aware of contactless cards (82 percent) and digital wallets (81 percent). Once they’ve tried new ways to pay, 78 percent who have a contactless card and 80 percent who have a digital wallet use them at least once a week.

Overall card payments once again gained in popularity as the top method of online payment (for 70 percent of respondents) while Cash on Delivery declined to 15 percent (from 22 percent in 2017).

Neil Fernandes, Visa’s Head of Risk for Middle East and North Africa, commented: “As digital commerce grows and new payments methods emerge, it’s imperative that we maintain trust and confidence in the ecosystem. It is everyone’s responsibility from consumers themselves to payment service providers to the banks and merchants, to ensure that card data is secure.”

Fernandes highlighted that Security Week seeks to raise consumer awareness of the security features of digital payments and provide them the tools to help them identify and prevent potential fraud. “This will empower them to use their cards or mobile device with confidence to shop both online and in a physical environment. We are delighted to partner with DED, a leader in promoting cashless commerce in the UAE, again in educating consumers with this knowledge and supporting the UAE government’s vision of becoming a cashless society.”

One of Visa’s key recommendations for online shopping is to shop only at well-known eCommerce sites – 64 percent of UAE shoppers do just that. Additionally, 64 percent have used an unsecured, open WiFi connection and 56 percent use one at least once a week. Whereas Visa advises using only a strong, secure data connection to transact online.

Visa’s survey identifies how retailers can reassure consumers regarding security and thus encourage them to shop with the confidence that they’re protected from fraud. For example, dynamic, one-time passwords (OTPs) were the number one choice for consumers when it comes to steps retailers can take to encourage digital purchases.

Digital wallets for contactless payments are protected by multiple layers of security, so shoppers can use these new payment technologies both in-store and online with the comfort that they are secure.

Visa’s tokenization technology, for example, replaces card data, including the 16-digit card number, with a “token”, a random number, to protect cardholders’ account information. During the transaction, the token is submitted instead of the actual card information. Digital wallets, such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, are enabled by Visa tokenization, meaning shoppers have a safe and seamless experience whether paying in person or online.


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