Bahrain's cashless transactions jump 60%

More than 12 million cashless transactions were recorded in Bahrain last month, 60.6 per cent higher than October 2020, shows the latest Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) data.

Infographics from the banking regulator reveal the volume of cashless payments was 12,618,661 (70.2pc of them contactless) in October, whereas the total value of products and services purchased using credit and debit cards at both points of sale and online (e-commerce) grew 42.3pc year-on-year (YoY) to BD302.7m.

E-commerce accounted for 7.8pc of transaction vomues and 30.3pc of transaction value.

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, enabling contactless payments.

Also, over the last few years most local and international banks have started offering 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 CBB statistics show that the highest number of transactions last month were carried out in restaurants (4,134,883), up 12.5pc from September 2021; followed by supermarkets (2,907,664), up 7.2pc; health (833,552), up 6.3pc; government services (714,380), down 0.6pc, and department stores (605,862), up 12pc.

In terms of value, government services at BD76.1m, up 1.9pc from September 2021, led the top five sectors, with supermarkets at BD33m (up 4.2pc) coming next, followed by restaurants at BD31.7m (up 13.3pc); health at BD15.5m (down 0.4pc) and hotels and resorts at BD14.6m (up 8.7pc).

The CBB report notes that electronic fund transfers in the kingdom increased during October, extending the rising trend to thirteen straight months.

Transactions using Fawri, Fawri+ and Fawateer services, enabled by the electronic fund transfer system (EFTS), continue to see substantial growth.

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

Last month, Fawri+ accounted for the vast majority of EFTS transactions, at 14,719,767, up 147.55pc YoY; followed by Fawri at 906,828, up 15.33pc and Fawateer at 868,324, up 96.08pc.

However, in terms of transaction value, Fawri was the leader at BD1,290.4m, followed by Fawri+ at BD419.3m, and Fawateer at BD102.2m.

The volume of successful payment gateway transactions was 1.658m and their value was BD74.2m.

Data also shows that the number of successful ATM withdrawals was 1.313m, amounting to a total value of BD120.658m.




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