The UAE Banks Federation (UBF) has announced the formal launch of the implementation of the mobile wallet programme in the country.
A committee of nine member banks developed the project, which was unveiled in February this year.
The mobile wallet programme will be rolled out in different phases over the next year. The first phase of the project will include putting in place mobile payments and a money transfer platform for smartphones and other digital devices.
Future phases of the project will make the mobile wallet available to visitors to the UAE, and will further extend the usability and functionality of the system.
Mobile wallet is the financial component of the UAE’s smart government initiative that was launched by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2013.
The initiative identified over 90 official services that require payments and the mobile wallet system will allow these payments to be completed from a purpose-designed platform that interfaces with all banks operating in the UAE.
The virtual wallet will also allow users to make cashless purchases across retail outlets in the UAE via their smartphones.
“The UAE will be potentially the first country in the world where the whole banking sector supports such a programme, which will impact everyone’s daily lives in one way or another,” said Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the UAE Banks Federation.
“Enabling government services to be paid for using state of the art technology, but going one stage further by also providing residents with the ability to make purchases, store money and transfer it to others in a very secure environment is unique.”
Tirad Al Mahmoud, CEO of ADIB and chairman of the UBF committee working on the smart wallet, said that the project has received a positive feedback from merchants and retail outlets in the UAE.
“We strongly believe that the popularity of the system will be driven by the uptake of users, and the ease of payment and intuitiveness of the system which supports it. Additionally, the system has been designed to make usage available to all levels of society, including those who do not have bank accounts,” he said.
Once operational, the mobile wallet programme will be managed by a separate entity supported by UAE banks and regulated by the Central Bank.
The UAE’s government is also currently working on its m-government initiative, under which government services will be offered through smartphones.
Last year, Sheikh Mohammed ordered that all the government services should be offered through mobile apps by 2015. He warned that officials who failed to meet this goal could face dismissal.