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Despite the impact of the pandemic, the survey conducted by Visa reveals that consumers in the UAE are gaining confidence in their shopping behaviors towards the local merchants, digital payments, online shopping, and cryptocurrencies. Also, 84% of UAE consumers know about cryptocurrencies, with about half of them seeing crypto as an alternative to cash.

According to the survey, UAE consumer confidence has rebounded in the wake of rising optimism about a faster economic recovery, with most residents becoming increasingly comfortable in spending on non-essentials, luxury items, dining, and travel.

Over 18 months since the Covid-19 outbreak, research shows that 64% of consumers in the UAE reported increasingly online spending. Also, 87% of customers said they would continue to shop online even after the pandemic.

“Digital payments remain the preferred method for transactions, with continued strong use of contactless solutions, including cards, digital wallets, and mobile payments,” Visa said in its survey report. “The urgency in controlling savings and budgeting has somewhat waned compared to the onset of the pandemic – while consumers in the UAE remain cautious, those surveyed have largely resumed shopping, dining, entertainment, and travel, albeit with hygiene precautions in place.”

Further, Visa’s research indicated a noticeable increase in consumer knowledge of cryptocurrencies, with 84% of consumers reporting awareness. Moreover, close to half of respondents see cryptocurrencies as a viable alternative to cash.

“Our research shows how the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the way the region’s consumers spend their money, with many of these significant behavioral changes likely to continue after the pandemic is over,” stated Visa’s general manager for UAE Shahebaz Khan. “As online shopping and contactless payments become the ‘new normal,’ it is more important than ever that businesses adapt to the changing consumer demand for a digital experience, which is increasingly seen as a safer and more seamless alternative to cash.”

“In countries such as the UAE, where vaccination rates in the general population are high, consumers are optimistic towards the country’s economic recovery, with a positive shift in opinions towards income, spend and savings,” he added.

Consumers’ behavioral changes during the pandemic seem likely to continue once the crisis is over. For example, 87% of consumers surveyed in the UAE revealed that they would continue to shop online for essentials and non-essentials.

Overall, Visa’s survey found that the pandemic has created significant opportunities for the eCommerce sector, especially those retailers entering the digital economy for the first time and those consumers who made their very first online purchases.

As reported before, the level of digital transformation in payments in the UAE has changed consumer behavior, showing the growing appetite for crypto and blockchain, claimed John Hensel, co-founder, and CEO of Securrency, an Abu Dhabi-based technology firm. In a survey conducted by The National News this July, half of UAE citizens said they plan to use cryptocurrencies within the next year, while 63% admitted they are more open to using them now than a year ago.

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