UAE mobile wallet close to launch

The UAE Banks Federation is putting the final touches on its mobile wallet project and is waiting for the green light from the Central Bank to take it live.

The initiative, announced in February last year as part of the country’s push to go digital, will allow bank customers to make payments with their mobile phones in a number of ways, including through SMS and phone-swiping technologies.

Already, mobile digital payments are on the increase in the West, with applications from companies such as Apple and Beam making it convenient for consumers to make payments.

“The UBF mWallet, a critical initiative that is expected to be an important catalyst for the future of the digital economy, reached an important milestone recently,” the UAE Banks Federation said.

“The board of directors has adopted the project, considering it ready for launch, upon receiving blessings and final ratification from the Central Bank.”

Eighteen banks are funding the initiative, the federation said without disclosing the costs.

The project is being implemented in phases.

Once operational, the mobile wallet will be managed by a separate entity supported by UAE banks and regulated by the Central Bank.

Future phases of the project will make the mobile wallet available to visitors to the UAE.

Emirates NBD, Dubai’s biggest bank, said this month that mobile transactions had grown 30 per cent every year since its app was launched in 2013. This year alone, the bank said it expects 3 million transactions through its app.

Part of the bank’s focus on mobile technology is because its consumer banking division is becoming more profitable.

The bank has been proactively increasing the functionality of its app, adding services such as being able to deposit a cheque by scanning and sending it through a phone, and reserving a place at a bank cashier by mobile.

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