The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has registered a record overall growth of 43 percent in e-commerce in Q1 of 2014 compared to the same period last year, making it the highest growth rate in the MENA region, according to estimates by Visa.
The overall growth was driven by increases in both domestic and cross-border e-commerce, which, according to Visa data, saw a 67 percent and 36 percent growth over the same period last year, respectively. Emerging as the leading categories for spending were general department store and airline transactions, followed by those of travel agencies, financial services and fashion retail.
The total number of Visa cards in circulation in Saudi Arabia was 11,367,834 at the end of 2013. Visa registered a 13 percent growth since 2012, with 10,037,658 cards being circulated in KSA.
Ahmed Gaber, country manager of Saudi Arabia at Visa, said in a statement: “The kingdom [KSA] has been one of the leading markets in the GCC to have embraced electronic payments alongside rapid internet and broadband penetration; which has resulted in greater adoption of financial cards for eCommerce transactions.
“Growth of e-commerce in Saudi Arabia has also benefited from wider merchant acceptance, growth in the retail space and improved financial literacy among the wider population.”
An increasing number of banks in the kingdom have been introducing payment cards targeting specific segments of the market, including women, Sharia-compliant cards and those aimed at frequent travelers.This encouraging growth of payment cards is being fueled by the leading Saudi banks, which offer Sharia-compliant products and services that are extremely attractive to consumers in KSA.