Kuwait’s Cards and Payments Industry: Emerging Opportunities, Trends, Size, Drivers, Strategies, Products and Competitive Landscape

Date: 2015-09

“The Kuwaiti card payments channel grew strongly in terms of transaction value during the review period (2009−2013). The card payments channel valued KWD16.0 billion (US$56.4 billion) in 2013, after registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.02%. Improved banking infrastructure and the increased installation of point of sale (POS) terminals in merchant outlets were the channel’s key growth factors. In terms of transaction value, debit cards accounted for a channel share of 60.0% in 2013, and situation which is expected to be maintained over the forecast period.
Due to the emergence of contactless payment systems, enhanced security features and the convenience of electronic payments, Kuwait’s population has been encouraged to perform more card-based transactions. In 2013, the 3D password feature was added to credit cards by Ahli United Bank Kuwait, and helped to increase customer confidence for card-based transactions. To promote debit card usage, an integrated POS service is being installed across all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
In order to target customers more precisely, banks design specialized products to meet the demands of specific target groups. The National Bank of Kuwait has developed new product strategies targeting niche segments such as women and premium customers. In partnership with Zain, a telecom company, the bank offers co-branded cards for mobile users, which give customers a free SMS for every Kuwaiti Dinar spent using the card. Upon applying for the Zain Visa Card, the cardholder also gets 100 free introductory bonus local text messages for every KWD1 (US$3.5) spent. The bank has also partnered with Diners Club to offer a co-branded card for travelers, which provides complimentary travel insurance.
The growing market for online shopping in Kuwait is one of the primary factors contributing for the rise of Kuwait’s cards and payments industry. E-commerce value increased from KWD57.3 million (US$199.1 million) in 2009 to KWD221.3 million (US$779.5 million) in 2013, at a review-period CAGR of 40.21%. The value of e-commerce is expected to record a forecast-period (2014−2018) CAGR of 23.92%. The primary reason behind Kuwait’s high online commerce value is the country’s high internet penetration rate. Internet penetration (users per 100 inhabitants) grew from 50.8 in 2009 to 84.9 in 2013, and is expected to grow over the forecast period.
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is being increasingly adopted by payment network providers, service providers, merchants and mobile network operators in Kuwait. Visa, for example, partnered with the National Bank of Kuwait and Zain, to launch an NFC trail in October 2009. This was the first instance of NFC technology being provided in Kuwait, and offered a convenient low-value payment solution to customers. The technology is accepted by most retailers, and offers cardholders the convenience of paying for purchases using Visa PayWave terminals.”


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