Thales Blog

EMV In The Middle East Remains Patchy

June 12, 2009

Like many other parts of the world, card fraud is a growing problem for the Middle East region. As other markets strengthen their protection mechanisms through EMV, Middle Eastern markets are becoming a more attractive target for fraudsters as the standard has so far only being introduced in a few countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Arguably, these countries are leading the way in EMV migration as a direct consequence of the risk of fraud. The rise of EMV acceptance in the Middle East started in areas where large volumes of international transactions were taking place and card payments were most popular. For example, Dubai Duty Free was an early adopter, becoming EMV-compliant in November 2006. Regionally, EMV take-up has grown both from an acceptance and card issuance perspective, as banks look to encourage chip card use as more secure and convenient alternative to cash. Yet, the region’s migration plans are fragmented and arguably therefore not wholly effective. It seems that a mandate may be what is required in the Middle East region in order to secure a full EMV roll-out.