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Majority of UAE Residents Confident in Finances, Visa Finds Knowledge Gaps

Most consumers in the UAE are confident in managing their finances, although gaps in financial knowledge persist, according to Visa‘s 2024 Financial Literacy Survey.

The survey, which assessed the financial habits and awareness of individuals aged 18 to 55 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, highlights both strengths and areas for improvement.

More than half of respondents across all age groups report confidence in their financial situation, with a significant majority actively monitoring their finances and setting long-term financial goals. However, despite this confidence, many consumers still lack a full understanding of critical financial concepts. Only 33 per cent of respondents fully grasp interest rates, although 75 per cent are aware of their credit scores.

A third of those surveyed are reluctant to take out loans in the near future, indicating a cautious approach to borrowing. Additionally, there is a strong desire for improved financial knowledge, with 65 per cent of respondents wanting to learn more about savings and investments, and 44 per cent seeking better budgeting and financial planning skills.

The survey also sheds light on the spending, saving, and investment behaviours of UAE consumers. Nearly half of the respondents have increased their bank account balances over the past year, and about 20 per cent have invested in financial products other than pension funds. Spending trends show that 40 per cent of respondents spent less than their income over the last year, while 37 per cent spent as much as they earned.

Interest in instalments

Interest in instalment payment options is growing, as reflected in Visa’s partnership with ADIB and Mashreq to introduce the Visa Instalment Solution (VIS). This service allows credit cardholders to repay their spending in smaller, equal payments, facilitating better budget management and enabling larger purchases.

Consumer attitudes towards instalments are positive, with 67 per cent of respondents considering affordability before making purchases. Currently, 16 per cent have an active buy now, pay later (BNPL) plan or have converted credit card purchases into instalments.

Many consumers feel that their financial situation limits their ability to achieve important goals and express interest in flexible credit solutions. A significant portion believes that instalment plans could help them better manage their finances, particularly for high-value purchases and emergency expenses.

Dr. Saeeda Jaffar, Visa’s SVP and group country manager for GCC, said: “As the UAE sets its sights on doubling the digital economy’s contribution of GDP, at Visa, we believe responsible money usage is the foundation of a sustainable economy.

“Our 2024 Financial Literacy Survey shows 64 per cent of UAE respondents feel their financial situation hinders their ability to accomplish significant goals. So, while we’re bringing solutions like instalments to the UAE, we are delighted to bring our research to the conversation around financial literacy and remain committed to supporting the UAE government’s financial education efforts.”


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