Cashless payments get easier in the UAE as banks get onboard with mWallet

Published August 31st, 2016 - 08:18 GMT
The use of mobile phone for making payments would result in smaller queues at banks and exchange companies. (Creative Virtual)
The use of mobile phone for making payments would result in smaller queues at banks and exchange companies. (Creative Virtual)

Making payments through mobile phones is not a dream anymore, as sixteen banks have become equity partners in an entity which will own and operate mWallet platform.

The mWallet or mobile wallet platform is the financial component of the UAE Government's Smart Government initiative, said the UAE Banks Federation.

The initiative was initially unveiled in 2014 as an ambitious and purpose-designed platform that interfaces with banks operating in the UAE providing the facility for a secure mobile phone app to replace traditional cash payments between any two parties, as well as a means to receive, store and transfer money. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Sudheer Kumar Shetty chief executive officer of the UAE Exchange said his exchange introduced mWallat way back in 2003, even though infrastructure and legal framework was not ready.

The customers are ready to use a wide-range of payment services it will offer including utility bills, online shopping, and money transfers, the CEO said.

"Convenience factor" would certainly drive its usage, he said, and it would be gradual, and once customers are confident on it, then it would grow faster."However, it may take up to three years, when it will become popular mode of making payments," Shetty said.

The use of mobile phone for making payments would result in smaller queues at banks and exchange companies, he said.

The signing of memorandum of understanding marks an important milestone in the development of the project, and essentially signals the beginning of the implementation stage. It signifies full agreement by the banks of their stake in the mWallet's operation and its operational structure. The mWallet platform, being developed under the aegis of the UAE Banks Federation by a special committee representing the 16 partner banks, will be regulated by the Central Bank of the UAE. One of its key objectives is the financial inclusion of the unbanked segment of the population, who will benefit from access to basic financial services, such as receiving funds or making payments.

The project plan calls for a phased implementation with first the replacement of cash payments between any two parties followed by transfers and offering the mWallet service to tourists and visitors to the UAE The equity partner Banks include NBAD, ADCB, ADIB, Mashreq Bank, DIB, CBD, RAK Bank, UNB, Al Hilal Bank, SIB, Al Masraf, Bank of Sharjah, Invest Bank, UAB, NBF, and NBQ.

Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the UAE Bank Federation, said "As we have indicated earlier, the creation of this platform is a global first being fully supported by the banking sector in UAE, and its unique features will enable it to provide a vital path towards a future cashless payments and cash free environment in the UAE. It is an essential and integral building block of the Smart Government initiative and will give the UAE a head start in transforming its economy for the benefit of residents here."

He, added: "We set out to build a system to revolutionise the way payments are made in the UAE, and we have succeeded in meeting all of our objectives. The Central Bank has been very supportive through helping us ensure that the mWallet's structure meets their regulatory requirements, and the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has also played an essential role in making sure that the system meets the required standards for the UAE's mobile operating environment." 

By Haseeb Haider

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