Pakistani consumers go cashless as trust in digital payments surges amid COVID-19: Visa survey


  • Current pandemic climate: 52% shopping more online, and more than half using card more instead of Cash on Delivery (COD); for in-store, 65% trust QR payments
  • Post-COVID-19 outlook: 56% will continue to use QR payments in-store; 49% will opt for digital payments more over COD for future eCommerce purchases
  • Survey release marks launch of Visa’s second annual Visa “Stay Secure” social media campaign in Pakistan

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Visa (NYSE: V), the world leader in digital payments, today released results of a survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on payment behavior of consumers in Pakistan. Visa’s Stay Secure survey also looks at consumers’ general views, preferences and concerns related to digital payments and offers key insights for merchants.

The survey release corresponds with the launch of Visa’s second annual “Stay Secure” social media campaign on Facebook (@VisaMiddleEast) and Instagram (@visamiddleeast) to promote safe digital payment practices. This year’s campaign comes at a time when more consumers in Pakistan increase their use of digital payments, and many opting to shop online for the first time to get what they need during this health crisis.  The Stay Secure webpage has tips and educational videos, and information on security features of digital payments.

COVID-19: Impact on Consumer Shopping and Payment Behavior

Forty-three percent of consumers surveyed in Pakistan have reduced shopping in-store since the outbreak of the pandemic.  When they do shop at stores, more than half of the respondents (55%) surveyed are using less cash and those who use cashless options reported increased usage of digital payments. In fact, 37% of QR payment users reported increase in usage; and 32% of chip and PIN users reported increased usage. For online shoppers surveyed, 52% are shopping online more with 53% saying they are paying online with cards more than COD.  

On innovative payment technologies such as QR code, 65% said they trust QR payments. Innovative way to pay, speed, convenience, wider acceptance, security and limited human contact, were the top reasons cited for consumers’ increasing preference for these payment solutions.

The New Normal?

These shifts in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic are expected to be the “new normal” as more consumers gain confidence in digital payments. Post the pandemic, 55% of online shoppers surveyed said they will continue to make more purchases online, and 49% said they will continue to opt more for paying with card over COD. For in-store purchases, 56% of consumers say they will continue to use QR payments more.

Kamil Khan, Country Manager for Pakistan, Visa, said: “The study shows that consumer behavior changes due to the pandemic – such as shifting online and increasing use of digital payments, are likely to continue even after the pandemic – an important take-away for businesses developing strategies for the post-COVID-19 consumer and market overall. We are excited to launch the Visa ’Stay Secure’ campaign to educate consumers about protecting themselves and to offer merchants important insights for navigating the new normal of cashless commerce.”

Data Privacy, and Biometrics: General Attitudes and Concerns

Up to 58% of respondents were comfortable sharing personal data with banks, telecom operators, and government owned entities. Name and contact information were cited as data that needs to be protected the most. Seventy-six percent find biometrics secure and for 66% the technology is convenient to use.

Neil Fernandes, Visa’s Head of Risk for Middle East and North Africa, commented: “The pandemic has changed how consumers in Pakistan shop and pay as more rely on and prefer digital commerce. With increased usage both among experienced and first-time users, cybercriminals too are keen to capitalize on the increased activity and vulnerability, especially of first-time online shoppers. That is why educating consumers about safe payment behavior is critical not only for the moment but as we move forward and adapt to the new normal. We are delighted to launch this Campaign for another year to continue our mission of empowering consumers to continue using digital payments and online channels with full confidence.”

Gen Z vs The Rest

Interestingly, the findings also revealed differences in the attitudes of Gen Z (18-22 years) compared to the general population. Fifty-eight percent of Gen Z find biometrics convenient versus 70% of the rest. Additionally, 59% of Gen Z believe tokenization improves payment security compared to 68% of non-Gen Z. With Gen Z entering the job market and their purchasing power expected to increase in the future, insights into their views and behavior are useful for businesses looking to cultivate long-term relationships with them.

Enhancing Online UX and Reducing Cart Abandonments: Key Insights for Merchants

Over half (60%) of Pakistan’s consumers surveyed have abandoned their online shopping cart because of authentication delays or failure. Of those who abandoned their carts, 55% purchased from other sites or from a nearby physical store while 54% dropped the idea of purchasing the product altogether. For 71% of respondents, an authentication process that doesn’t require them to enter one-time-passcode (OTP) for standard and recurrent transactions would be more convenient; 66% would trust a more seamless process.

Merchants seeking to deliver an enhanced online experience for customers can now adopt Visa Secure (previously known as Verified by Visa), an updated program to help make online payments more secure and seamless. It uses the latest EMV 3-D Secure (3DS) specification, which leverages fraud-detection intelligence working behind the scenes to verify cardholder identity and block unauthorized transactions.

The survey provides further insights on how merchants can build trust in eCommerce sites. The following emerged as the top “confidence builders” by consumers surveyed: Displaying verified customer reviews (51%); use of augmented reality for personalized shopping experience (42%); offering payment options in local currency (41%); ease of refunds (39%); logos of payment providers (38%); offering a wide range of payment options (37%); and, a customer service number or chat window (35%).