Middle East on cusp of a real-time payments revolution

Region could reap huge dividends from real-time payments
Middle East on cusp of a real-time payments revolution
Real-time payments

The Middle East is ideally placed to realize huge gains and significant economic benefits for businesses and consumers from real-time payments, due to the region’s untapped potential, high levels of innovation, and ability to examine and opt for best in class practices from around the world, according to a report published by ACI Worldwide.

The report — tracking real-time payments volumes and growth across 53 countries — provides a comprehensive view of the economic benefits of real-time payments for consumers, businesses, and the broader economy across 30 countries. The report covers all G20 nations, excluding Russia. 

The Bahrain real-time payments market is a success story — at 34.2 percent, the country recorded the largest real-time share by volume, according to GlobalData.

Saudi is a newcomer to real-time payments, with its inaugural real-time payments system, Sarie, launched by the Central Bank in April 2021; early uptake resulted in real-time payments transaction volumes reaching 175 million in 2021, leading to estimated cost savings of $23 million for businesses and consumers, and helping unlock $166 million of economic output supported by real-time payments.

Real-time volumes are expected to record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.1 percent from 2021 to 2026. Real-time payments transaction volumes are forecast to rise to 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. 

As for the UAE, in 2021, 28 million real-time transactions were made in the UAE, expected to climb to 134 million in 2026. 

Real-time payments are expected to record a CAGR of 36.5 percent from 2021 to 2026.

UAE’s mandated Instant Payments Platform (IPP) is set to launch in October 2022.