Online shopping transactions surge in Bahrain

Purchase of products and services using credit and debit cards and mobile wallets at stores and online combined shows a jump of 74%

Online payment. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Online payment. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Getty Images

MANAMA: Shopping transactions in Bahrain nearly doubled last month, inching towards the 1 million mark, shows data from the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB).

Numbers released by the banking regulator yesterday reveal that more than six out of 10 card transactions (65.1pc) were contactless, continuing the trend for the fifth straight month.

Purchase of products and services using credit and debit cards and mobile wallets at stores and online combined shows a jump of 74 per cent in volume to 9,651,992 (65.1pc of them contactless) in May 2021, from 5,550,865 seen in May 2020, which is another indication of the accelerated movement towards a cashless economy.

The statistics show that the value of transactions grew 58.7pc year-on-year to BD238 million (40.9pc contactless) last month compared with BD149.9m in May 2020.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 last year, consumers have preferred to use less cash, seeking safer and cleaner payment methods, and banks in the country have responded by issuing credit and debit cards using near-field communication (NFC) technology.

Over the last 12 months, many local and international banks have also started to offer cardless withdrawals from their ATMs using the BenefitPay e-wallet, from Benefit, the kingdom’s only operator of electronic financial transactions.

The service has been made possible because of tokenisation – the process of protecting sensitive data by replacing it with an algorithmically generated number called a token.

The highest number of transactions last month were carried out in supermarkets (2,281,065), followed by restaurants (2,157,262), health services (782,722), transportation (660,979) and department stores (645,115).

In terms of value, government services at BD59.3m, led the top five sectors, with supermarkets at BD26.4m coming next, followed by restaurants (BD15.3m), health services (BD14.4m) and clothing and footwear stores (BD13.3m).

The infographics show real-time electronic fund transfers in the kingdom jumped more than three-fold in May 2021, marking the 11th straight month of a rising trend.

Transactions using Fawri, Fawri+ and Fawateer services, enabled by the electronic fund transfer system (EFTS), continue to see substantial growth, in both year-on-year and month-on-month terms.

Fawri+ is an almost real-time fund transfer service which allows individuals or entities to transfer funds of up to BD1,000 per day in less than 30 seconds; whereas Fawri is a deferred settlement fund transfer service which allows individuals or entities to transfer any amount within a few hours of the business day, and Fawateer provides real-time bill payments.

In May 2021, Fawri+ accounted for the vast majority, 87.4pc, of EFTS transactions, followed by Fawateer and Fawri at 6.5pc and 6.1pc respectively.

However, in terms of transaction value, Fawri was the leader at 74.1pc, followed by Fawri+ at 22.7pc and Fawateer at 3.2pc.

The number of transactions completed through Fawri+ in last month amounted to 10,833,976, up 218.25pc from 3,404,214 in May 2020.

In terms of value, Fawri+ transactions amounted to BD360.84m in May 2021, up 100.5pc from BD179.940m for the same month last year. As for Fawri, the number of transactions was up 14.68pc at 885,795 when compared with 772,394.

Transactions made through the Fawateer service amounted to 676,286, higher by 516.2pc than 109,748 in April 2020.

The regulator also issued the latest numbers of the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system, whereby all inter-bank and customer transaction payments are processed and settled in real-time, online mode.

The volume of RTGS transactions at 25,724 last month is up 18.63pc from 21,685, while the value is up by 25.22pc year-on-year to BD6.3bn.

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