The advanced EMV implementations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE are not typical of the region. Generally speaking, banks in other Middle East countries have been slower to make the change from magnetic stripe-based credit and debit cards to Chip based credit cards.
In addition, banks have been slow to migrate their systems, citing cost as the main reason for not rolling out EMV compliant cards and terminals. While banks may be alarmed at the growth in the level of card-related fraud, they still have difficulty in justifying the migration costs to EMV on fraud alone. Clearly, banks are seeing EMV migration as a compliance issue, rather than as an opportunity to benefit from a most radical change to the card payment infrastructure.
As the world gradually migrates to EMV, it’s important that the Middle East doesn’t get left behind. By taking part in one of the later waves of migration, the region can benefit from the lessons learnt from earlier implementations, such as those in the UK. These early adopters have also been proof of the benefits associated with EMV; in the UK, for example, losses on transactions on the UK high street reduced by 67 per cent from £218.8m in 2004 to £73.0m over a three year period, according to APACS. As the use of credit and debit cards increases in the Middle East, now is the time to introduce EMV so that the explosion in card use is not accompanied by a similar explosion in fraud.