The use of cash continues to decline in Middle Eastern countries, with consumers using cash less frequently in favour of digital payments, according to new research published by MasterCard.

The credit card company said 88% of people in both the UAE and Egypt had used at least one emerging payment method, including smartphone wallets, digital transfers or QR codes, with the figure being 89% in Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi, 30% said they had used less cash within the last year, compared with 29% in the UAE and 15% in Egypt.

Around 69% in Saudi, 64% in Egypt and 66% of UAE consumers said they had increased their use of digital payment methods in the last year, a higher percentage than the global rate of 61%.

There was also a high percentage of consumers in all three countries that were aware of buy-now-pay-later instalments as a concept, with many already using it.

In Saudi Arabia, 87% were aware of it, and 54% had used it, while in the UAE, the figures were 87% and 46% and Egypt 81% and 50%.

Earlier this year, a report by the MENA Fintech Association said 69% of payments made in the Middle East in 2023 will be cashless.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Cleofe Maceda)