Contactless cards and online banking have gained widespread popularity in the UAE during the coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s largest bank by customer base, Emirates NBD, said on Tuesday that contactless payments have “increased rapidly” and now constitute more than 80 percent of all point-of-sale (POS) transactions.

Fears of contracting coronavirus from paper bills and surfaces like card readers and ATM machines have prompted many consumers around the world to change their banking and payment habits.

According to global accounting and consulting firm Deloitte, the pandemic has further encouraged the adoption of digitalisation in retail banking.

In its recent survey, the firm found that almost 20 percent of retail banking customers have used at least one online service for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the first-time users said that they want to continue to use at least some online services even after the crisis is over.

“Retail banks now have the opportunity to win over customers to the benefits of online banking,” said Deloitte.

Online transactions

At Emirates NBD, more residents have also shifted transactions online, with more than 75 percent of the bank’s retail banking and wealth management (RBWM) customers now digitally active and 96 percent of all transactions now being done digitally and outside the branch.

“Throughout the year, we have seen more customers utilise our digital banking offering as a secure and safe platform through which to bank,” said Shayne Nelson, group chief executive officer of the bank.

In its latest financial report, the lender said its balance sheet remained strong, although its net profit for the first nine months of the year dropped 55 percent year-on-year to of 5.6 billion UAE dirhams.

Total income jumped 18 percent year-on-year to 18.3 billion dirhams.

Total assets went up 1 percent from end-2019 to 692 billion dirhams, while customer deposits fell 3 percent to 458 billion dirhams during the same period.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

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