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United Arab Emirates Country Report

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  • Published Date: September 2019

A comprehensive overview of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in the United Arab Emirates.

What you will learn from this report:

  • How average profitability per card in the UAE has risen to world-beating levels
  • What role is played by Premium cards
  • How the authorities are advancing the digital economy of the Emirates
  • Who is gaining UAE market share in the ongoing banking sector consolidation
  • How alternative forms of digital payment are progressing


  • Cash remains the most commonly used payment method in the UAE, although total card purchase volume increased by 90 per cent from 2013 to 2018 when it reached $66 billion. Given the opportunity, the authorities have prioritised the establishment of a digital economy: in 2018, the central bank's 'National Payment Systems Strategy' was announced.
  • Islamic banking accounts for approximately 20 per cent of total banking assets in the UAE, with assets growing at a faster pace than the assets of conventional banking.
  • E-commerce continues to grow in strength and importance on the back of a relatively young, tech-savvy population, widespread internet and smartphone penetration and relatively elevated income per capita.
  • On a per-card basis, the UAE is one of the most profitable cards markets in the world (if not the most profitable): the average pretax profit per credit card amounted to $209 in 2018.
  • Major contributory factors towards elevated profitability are the preponderance of Premium credit cards, relatively high MSCs, and high volumes of cross-border usage for credit cards.
  • Mobile payments are gaining ground in the United Arab Emirates. Besides Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, there are also a number of mobile payment offerings available from domestic players.
  • Recent years have seen significant consolidation in the UAE banking sector, making the newly founded First Abu Dhabi Bank the second-ranked issuer by both number of credit cards in issue as well as by credit card outstandings.
  • Alipay has partnered with the two leading merchant acquirers in the market, Network International and Mashreq Bank, to grow acceptance of Alipay in the UAE. (However, this drive is at the formative stage). Close rival WeChat Pay is also accepted at a relatively small handful of merchants.

UAE Payments Research | Report Contents

Key Topics
Demographics and the economy
Payments environment
Cards market
Mobile payments
Profit pool
The networks
Key retail banks and issuers
Acquiring and processing
Online acquiring
Regulatory and other cards market information

Appendices: Card Payments Data

Appendix I: Demographics and economy

  • Demographic and economic indicators
  • Ownership of key consumer devices
  • Internet usage by population

Appendix II: Payments environment

  • Access points
  • Account penetration
  • Consumer payment trends
  • B2C e-commerce payment methods

Appendix III: Cards market

  • Total cards payment metrics
  • Contactless cards metrics
  • Credit card numbers
  • Total credit cards metrics
  • Credit cards profitability indicators
  • Debit cards numbers
  • Debit cards metrics
  • Appendix IV: Mobile payments
  • Mobile proximity payment metrics
  • Mobile P2P payments

Appendix V: Profit pool

  • Profit pool

Appendix VI: The card networks

  • Networks' credit card market shares
  • Networks' credit card numbers
  • Networks' credit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of credit card transactions
  • Networks' average credit card transaction value
  • Credit card interchange fees by network
  • Networks' debit card market shares
  • Networks' debit card numbers
  • Networks' debit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of debit card transactions
  • Networks' average debit card transaction value
  • Debit card interchange fees by network

Appendix VII: Retail banks and issuers

  • Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers
  • Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings
  • Key debit card issuers market shares by debit card numbers

Appendix VIII: Acquiring and processing

  • Merchant acquirer credit card market share
  • Credit card merchant service charges
  • Merchant acquirer debit card market share
  • Debit card merchant service charges
  • Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships
  • Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships
  • Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers
  • Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions

Appendix IX: Online acquiring

  • Online merchant acquirer market share

UAE Payments Trends | Entities Referenced

2CheckOut Abraaj Capital Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Actis ADCB ADIB AECB Air Arabia Al Etihad Credit Bureau Al Hilal Bank Al Rajhi Bank of Saudi Arabia Alipay Alipay Amazon American Express Apple Pay Avis Axiom Bank of Baroda Beam Wallet CashU CEMEA Central Bank of the UAE Cleartrip CyberSource DED DenizBank Department of Economic Development DGHR DIB DIC Diebold Nixdorf Diners Club Dubai CommerCity Dubai Free Zones Council Dubai Government Human Resources Department Dubai Internet City Dubai Islamic Bank Dubai Metro Dubai Police Emcredit Emerging Market Payments Emirates Airlines Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company Emirates Islamic Bank Emirates National Oil Company Emirates NBD Emirates NBD Pay Emirates Petroleum Products Company EMP ENOC EPPCO Eros Digital Home Etisalat FAB FGB First Abu Dhabi Bank First Gulf Bank GCC GCCNET General Atlantic Google Pay Gulf Cooperation Council HSBC HyperPay Ingenico Payments Joyalukkas Jewellery Jumbo Jumeirah Emirates Towers KinTrans Kuwait Finance House Liv London Stock Exchange (LSE) Majid Al Futtaim Malaysia Manchester City FC Manchester United FC Mashreq Bank Mashreq Neo Mashreq Payport MashreqPay Mastercard MasterPass Musafir.com Namshi National Bank of Abu Dhabi National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah National Payment Systems Strategy NBAD Network International Noor Bank PayfortPAYMENTS RESEARCH PayTabs PayWave Planet Payment Prosum Quisk Middle East RAKBANK RAKBANK Amal Road and Transport Authority Royal Cloud RTA RTA Bus RuPay Salaam Rewards SAMA Samsung Pay SAP Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority Sharaf DG Sharjah Islamic Bank Skrill Souq.com Sri Lanka Srilankan airlines Standard Chartered Bank Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection Telr UAE Switch Union National Bank UnionPay United Arab Bank offer US Federal Reserve Visa Wage Protection System Warburg Pincus WeChat Pay WPS


Verisk Financial Research reports deliver market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring/processing, retail banking, and consumer credit for the Middle East. Researchers use both primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior Middle east industry executives and experts.

See more Middle East Country Reports or explore the full range of financial research reports for 72 markets worldwide.

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