Online Shopping in Pakistan Increased by 52% During Pandemic: Report

Displaying verified customer reviews, use of augmented reality, local currency payment options, ease of refunds, and a chat window as top confidence builders according to Visa Inc. survey

A significant majority of Pakistani customers have shifted towards digital payment options since the outbreak of COVID-19, which improved their trust level in cashless payment solutions significantly.

These findings were released by multinational financial services company Visa Inc., that conducted a survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the payment behavior of consumers in Pakistan. Visa’s Stay Secure survey also looked at consumers’ general views, preferences, and concerns related to digital payments and offered key insights for merchants.

According to the survey, online shopping increased by 52 percent, and more than half of the transactions were done through credit cards and debit cards instead of Cash on Delivery (COD).

The survey pointed out that 43 percent of consumers surveyed have reduced shopping in-store since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, those who still preferred to shop in-store showed a 65 percent increase in trust in QR payments during the current pandemic climate. 37 percent of QR payment users reported an increase in usage; and 32 percent of chip and PIN users reported increased usage. For online shoppers surveyed, 52 percent are shopping online more with 53 percent saying they are paying online with cards more than COD.

Visa Inc.’s survey also said that more than half of the respondents (55 percent) surveyed are using less cash and those who use cashless options reported increased usage of digital payments. On innovative payment technologies such as QR code, 65 percent said they trust QR payments. An 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.

Covid-19 pandemic impacted consumer shopping and payment behavior

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-pandemic findings show that 49 percent of users of online shopping avenues said that they will continue to opt more for paying with a card over COD. For in-store purchases, 56 percent of consumers said that they will continue to use QR payments more.

Kamil Khan, Visa’s Country Manager for Pakistan, 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.” He called it an important take-away for businesses developing strategies for the post-COVID-19 consumer and the overall market. “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 percent of respondents were comfortable sharing their personal data with the banks, telecom operators, and government-owned entities. Name and contact information were cited as the data that, consumers feel, needs to be protected the most. 76 percent of the surveyed population found biometrics secure, while 66 percent said that the technology is convenient to use.

Neil Fernandes, Visa’s Head of Risk for the 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, cyber criminals 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.

Key Insights for Merchants

Over half of Pakistan’s consumers surveyed (60 percent) said that at some point while shopping online, they have abandoned their shopping carts because of authentication delays or failure. Of those who abandoned their carts, 55 percent then went on to make the purchase from other sites or from a nearby physical store, while 54 percent dropped the idea of purchasing the product altogether. For 71 percent 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; while 66 percent said that they would trust a more seamless process.

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

About the future projections of online shopping in Pakistan, the survey said showed that 56 percent of the customers said that they will continue to use QR payments in-store; while 49 percent said that they will opt for digital payments over COD for future e-Commerce transactions once the pandemic is over.