According to a new report published by ACI Worldwide, in partnership with GlobalData and the Centre of Economics and Business Research (CEBR), real-time payments are expected to boom in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, while Bahrain is far ahead its Gulf neighbours.
In 2021, 28 million instant transactions were carried out in the UAE. This number is expected to grow to 134 million in 2026. In Saudi Arabia, real-time transactions can rise as high as 473 million by 2026, delivering net savings for businesses and consumers of $109 million and helping to generate an additional $267 million of economic output.
Real-time payments improve liquidity in the financial system and therefore act as a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important for our fast-paced and digital-led gig economies. Instant payments allow businesses to be more flexible and reduces the need for burdensome cashflow, says Owen Good, head of advisory, Centre for Economics and Business Researchmanagement.
The UAE is expected to launch its Instant Payments Platform (IPP) in October 2022, while Saudi Arabia introduced its first real-time payments system, Sarie, in April 2021.
Bahrain, in contrast, is far ahead its Gulf neighbours. Its real-time payments system Fawri+ has been in place since 2015.
Bahraini entrepreneurs have quickly embraced the new system. In 2017 Fawri+ processed less than 1 percent of all electronic transactions, while last year it accounted for more than a half of electronic payments volume.
The Middle East is on the cusp of a real-time payments revolution; the region has an incredible opportunity and the momentum to drive economic growth and financial inclusion with real-time payments, says Santhosh Rao, senior vice president for Middle East, Africa and South Asia at ACI Worldwide.
Instant payments are set to grow not only in MENA but worldwide. According to the report, 2026 will see 427,7 bln transactions made, up from 118,3 bln in 2021. Among the countries with the highest number of real-time payments are India, China, Thailand, Brazil and South Korea.