Real-time transactions in UAE expected to reach 146 million by 2027

Source: ACI Worldwide

New, sophisticated use cases for consumers and businesses are driving global real-time payment volumes to record highs, with 195.0 billion transactions recorded globally in 2022 — a YoY growth of 63.2% — according to the 2023 Prime Time for Real-Time report, published by ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW), a global leader in mission-critical, real-time payments software, in partnership with GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Growth for Real-Time Payments in the UAE Is Ripe

According to the ACI report, 37.2 million real-time transactions were made in the UAE in 2022, and this number is expected to increase to 146 million by 2027, representing a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.5%. Moreover, real-time payments accounted for only 1.1% of total paperless transactions in 2022; this figure is expected to rise to 12% of electronic payments by 2027.

Since last year, ACI Worldwide has been working closely with all market participants to build the domestic real-time payments scheme. The phased rollout of a national Instant Payment Platform (IPP) is expected later this year, through which payments and fund transfers in the UAE can be processed 24/7 and in real time. The scheme, which will require the participation of all financial institutions in the country, is expected to offer core payments based on the new instant payment rails and overlay services such as Request to Pay.

“The launch of a domestic IPP will be a game changer for the UAE as it will accelerate the adoption of real-time payments, which is central to the country’s ambition of creating a modern and digital economy,” said Santhosh Rao, Senior Vice President, MEASA, ACI Worldwide. "Real-time payments bring many benefits — they help ensure the competitiveness of banks and financial service providers, they eliminate friction in payment transactions and ultimately they increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. The UAE now has a great opportunity to drive economic growth and financial inclusion through real-time payments. ACI has worked across the world to support governments and banks as they roll out real-time payments, and we are delighted to be a leading provider in the Middle East to help countries in the region reap the benefits of real-time payments."

As governments and regulators in the Middle East set new mandates for adoption, the region is the fastest-growing real-time payments market in the world. Transactions are expected to grow from $675 million in 2022 to $2.6 billion by 2027, representing a CAGR of 30.6%. Several countries, including the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, are expected to launch domestic real-time schemes soon, with innovative features and overlay services high on the agenda. Bahrain is forecasted to have the highest level of real-time payments consumer adoption by 2027 globally, with every citizen projected to make 83.3 real-time transactions per month. Bahrain is the only Middle Eastern country in the Top 10 league table for consumer adoption of real-time payments, measured as transaction per head of population per month.

ACI Worldwide powers 25 domestic and pan-regional real-time payment schemes across six continents — including nine central infrastructures — providing solutions to central banks, participant banks, fintechs and other payment service providers. The Middle East is among the company’s leading regional markets — ACI is currently supporting three countries in the region to build domestic real-time payments infrastructures. This adds to ACI’s long history of success in Asia, where ACI powers the central infrastructures for Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and supports many real-time payment schemes across the APAC region, including Singapore, Philippines and Australia.

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