November 2017

Apple Pay launches in UAE

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On 24 October 2017 Apple Pay launched in the UAE, introducing a third digital wallet to the market.

Six banks will allow customers using credit cards with an iPhone model 6 or later to use the application: Mashreq, Emirates NBD, Emirates Islamic, RAK Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered. The service is available at any company that has a contactless payment terminal.

Apple Pay originally launched in 2014 in US, and in 2015 internationally. The UAE joins a population of 20 other countries including Sweden, Finland and Denmark who are also recent additions.

Competing players are Samsung Pay, launched in April 2017 and BEAM which has been in operation since 2012.

A number of drivers have contributed to a national move towards the digital wallet: time, technology and strategy.

“The e-commerce scene in the UAE is expected to rise to AED 40 billion during the year 2018”, said Simon Cooper, CEO at Centrepoint - a large department store now accepting Apple Pay.

The projected surge in e-commerce value in the UAE creates an optimal environment for Apple Pay to enter the market and give customers an easier and faster way of to make payments.

The launch of Apple Pay, in operation with its competitors will encourage customers to use and accept making contactless payments in the UAE.

Take buying a cup of coffee: a customer, once subscribed to Apple Pay, can simply use their iPhone device with a barista’s contactless payment terminal to make their purchase. This move towards simplifying everyday activities is aligned with the UAE government’s overarching strategy of moving towards a cashless economy and a set expectation to see increased cashless transactions by 2020.

From a technology perspective, the UAE has significantly developed its payment infrastructure, increasing both merchant and customer confidence in contactless point-of-sale terminals, according to Rabia Yasmeen, Analyst at Euromonitor. Further Smart Dubai has recognized the populations increasing dependency on mobile devices by launching DubaiPay - an online payment portal that enables individuals to pay the fees for all their daily services via their smartphones.

For clarity: card information is not stored on the phone or apple servers, Apple has zero access to your purchase history and assuming a phone is lost all data and cards associated with the phone can be removed remotely.

Digital wallets are one component in the digital transformation of everyday life; offering customers a simpler, safer and faster means of managing purchase transactions. Apple has already referenced plans to integrate its payment service with cash machines, enable payments via messaging, amongst other initiatives, in the near future.

Allowing technology leaders to develop their products and services in the UAE supports Dubai in maintaining its commitment of being a Smart City by providing world-class digital services to its economy.