Only in the UAE, a new 'selfie' credit card is launched

Published February 26th, 2015 - 10:24 GMT

Most residents in the UAE will gladly complain about the recent rise in cold-calling for credit cards by banks – a practice that is actually banned by the central bank.

It is also not uncommon for a sales executive to walk up to you on the road and ask you if you are interested in a personal loan or a “lifetime free” card that offers you the “best deals ever”.

With consumer lending in the country rising and competition spiking, banks have been racing to grow their customer-bases, and along with the methods mentioned above, they are also resorting to new, unusual (what we like to call ‘only in the UAE’) products to lure clients.

The latest came from UAE-based Mashreq, which announced on Thursday the launch of a ‘selfie’ credit card, in a bid to capture younger customers.

The bank claims ‘Portraits’ is the nation’s very first ‘selfie’ credit card and will be offered initially to Mashreq’s Platinum Elite card users.

Using Mashreq’s online platform, customers can upload a photo from their cell phone and receive a credit card with the same photo on the front.

“Mashreq Portraits is an attempt to create a card that reflects the digital, ‘always-on’ lifestyle of today’s millennial,” the bank said.

“It is the epitome of personalisation.”

Targeting the luxury-seeking niche in the country, the lender unveiled the premium Mashreq Solitaire Credit Card in June last year. As it’s name reveals, apart from offering its affluent users a range of exclusive benefits, the physical plastic card is also embedded with certified diamonds (the bank stresses they are genuine).

Meanwhile an attempt to lure female customers in the UAE came from Al Hilal Bank last month. The lender launched a new ‘Laha’ scented credit card, which has a built-in applet that can absorb the scent of any perfume and also offers exclusive discounts from major women-oriented brands.

While innovation is essential, are these cards just gimmicks or do they actually manage to appeal to an audience in the UAE?

And just as we polled takers for the selfie card (none so far in our office), we received a press release that stated that a consumer fraud report published last year by ACI Worldwide, found that of the 20 countries surveyed, the highest percentage of respondents that reported being a victim of card fraud in the last five years came from the UAE.

That leaves us wondering – shouldn’t security be more in focus than new cards?

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