Floppy disks, Fax machines, Cassette tapes, and answering machines… Not too long ago each of these items played a vital role in our day-to-day lives. Now in 2019, they’re nothing more than relics of the past, each being replaced by a more efficient, cloud-based solution. It may seem like science fiction now, but the days of paying for goods and services using cash are slowly, but surely, fading into the sunset.
While the Middle East has traditionally been slow to move away from cash when compared with the rest of the world, a new wave of technology alongside strong government initiatives are starting to change habits across the region. This week we’ll be exploring the current state of cashless payments around the world and highlighting the mada debit Card and Meeza debit Card, two digital payment initiates bringing the Middle East closer to a cashless future.
The State of Cashless Payments
In recent years, more convenient payment options like tap-to-pay, mobile wallets, and online payment platforms have been eroding the popularity of cash. These new technologies have changed the way consumers think about payments. Now in 2019, cashless payments not only offer greater convenience for shoppers, but also provide improved security and faster transaction times for businesses.
With these benefits in mind it’s not surprising to see several countries around the world are steadily moving towards a completely cashless society. Sweden is currently leading the world, with more than 59 percent of consumer transactions completed using non-cash methods and Canada is a close second with 57 percent of transactions made using alternative methods.
It’s not just western countries that are making a push for cashless economies. In 2016 India eliminated its highest denomination bills — removing 90 percent of paper money from circulation encouraging millions to switch to cashless systems. The People’s Bank of China has also publicly acknowledged that physical cash may one day become obsolete as more efficient technologies enter the mainstream.
Cashless in the Middle East
In the Middle East, both Saudi Arabia and Egypt have taken large steps to bring their citizens access to many of the latest cashless technologies through their mada Debit Card and Meeza debit Card schemes.
What Is the mada Debit Card?
Mada is the latest generation of the Saudi Arabian electronic payments network and it’s responsible for connecting all the ATMs and credit card terminals across the country as well as connecting In addition to payments within the country. Mada also connects consumers to global payment systems like GCC Net, VISA, MasterCard, and American Express to provide wider acceptance across the region and overseas.
The mada debit card is a digital payment card that leverages the mada network to bring modern digital payment options virtually to every Saudi resident. Currently, there are over 30 million mada cards in circulation across the country with everyone providing access to things like tap-to-pay and e-commerce payments.
With a strong internal payment network in place and access to the latest cashless options, Saudi Arabia is taking large steps towards a cashless economy.
What Is Meeza Debit Card?
Don’t think Saudi Arabia is taking those steps alone. Egypt recently launched its own digital payment initiative, the Meeza (meaning “merit” in Arabic) debit card. The card is the latest financial inclusion initiative by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to push towards more cashless payments and brings many of the same features to the Egyptian population.
The prepaid card, which does not require a bank account for use, can be recharged at banks and ATMs around the country. Once a card has been loaded, consumers can access online shopping, pay government bills, and buy from a wide network of merchants who have point-of-sale terminals. The CBE aims to issue 20 million Meeza cards in the next three years meaning that a cashless Egypt could be here sooner than you think.
A fully cashless Middle East may seem unlikely now, but with large projects like the mada debit card and Meeza debit card schemes gaining traction, it is clear that the region is eager to adopt new payment technologies. Looking ahead, society could benefit immensely from improvements to the way transactions are processed. With businesses enjoying reduced costs and consumers enjoying increased convenience, cashless payments are the future.