Mubasher: The Middle East ranked as the fastest-growing real-time payment market for the second consecutive year in 2023, according to the 2024 Prime Time for Real-Time report by ACI Worldwide and GlobalData.

The region's real-time payment market surged by 33.60% year-on-year (YoY) in 2023, with 855 million transactions. This number is projected to grow to three billion by 2028, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.80%.

Real-time payments are swiftly becoming a cornerstone of modern economies in the Middle East. Governments in the region are implementing real-time payment schemes that benefit businesses and consumers and drive financial transformation.

In 2023, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar launched national real-time payment schemes, joining Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE. With all six GCC member states now operating real-time payment programs, the transaction value in the Middle East is expected to soar from $230 billion in 2023 to $903 billion by 2028.

Bahrain stands out as one of the most developed payment markets in the Middle East, with real-time payments comprising nearly 50% of the total payment volume and the majority of all electronic payments.

The surge in real-time and electronic payments highlights the Middle East's shift towards a cashless economy. In 2023, electronic transactions dominated, accounting for over 50% of all transactions and 95% of transaction value in the region.

Notably, real-time payments represented 12% of the region's electronic transactions last year, a figure expected to reach 22% by 2028, outpacing Europe and North America.

According to the report, by 2028, cash-based transactions will plummet to just 3% of all transaction value in the region, underscoring the Middle East's commitment to a cashless future.

Santhosh Rao, Senior Vice President for Sales at ACI Worldwide MEASA, commented: “With real-time payment schemes now operational in every GCC nation, local banks are at a pivotal juncture where they must harness technological evolution as the catalyst for innovation.”

“With the Middle East leading the world in real-time payments growth, financial institutions should seize the opportunity to carefully study these successes and extract valuable insights to inspire the launch of their own pioneering real-time payment solutions,” Rao added.


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