Illustrating the downturn in the country’s economy, consumers in the United Arab Emirates used debit and credit cards to initiate 3.04 million purchases during last year’s fourth quarter, down by 10.6% from the 3.4 million during the same period a year earlier, data from the country’s central bank show. The value of the transactions fell 25.7%, to 1.24 billion dirham (US$338 million or 235 million euros) from 1.67 billion dirham. 

Cardholders also initiated 43.2 million ATM transactions, down 4.2% from the 45.1 million. The value of the ATM transactions declined by 8%, to 43.7 billion dirham from 47.5 billion dirham, the data show.

The data clearly reflect the downturn in the country’s economy, where the credit crisis finally boiled over, Mrinalini Manral, an analyst with India-based Dassler Business Intelligence tells, PaymentsSource.

“You saw how Dubai had to be rescued by others like Abu Dhabi and how many immigrants to the [United Arab Emirates] made their way home as the economy collapsed,” she says. “The decline in these transactions is evidence how spending dropped then.”

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