In a matter of seconds, a digital wallet allows secure payment of bills and purchases to retailers, but also the transfer of money (or cryptos and tokens) to friends and family using only a mobile phone.
Usually, no central banking authority is involved, unless of course, it’s a transaction initiated by a bank’s own e-wallet product.
In the GCC, the trend is thriving and you can get set up in a few minutes’ time and become a participant in this region’s future of money drive.
Smart UAE goes cashless
Sharjah Municipality announced plans to go cashless with regards to payments of all fines and fees across the emirate starting last July 15.
It will permit payment via e-wallet platforms from Samsung, Google and Apple.
Dubai, meanwhile, said that the UAE PASS would become the only digital identity for all residents of Dubai to access government services, replacing the Dubai ID.
UAE Pass users can access more than 5,000 government services with a single username and password.
The service has already been adopted by 200,000 individuals.
A list of wallet providers in the GCC
The GCC Web Wallet allows receiving and sending money in the GCC without needing to worry about storing your wallet as no download is necessary.
Instant access to funds happens by logging to your web wallet online from any device, almost anywhere in the world.
Just type your email address, which is used for your account and transaction confirmation and password recovery.
Providing your wallet address to the sender allows them to send funds to you. If you buy your coins on an exchange market, just provide your wallet address there.
The GCC Web Wallet claims to have an impenetrable blockchain and to using wallets stored on protected servers.
Apple Pay works on iOS and Mac devices and the app requires you to add credit card details.
Google Pay is also known as G Pay, the digital wallet platform and online payment system. It works similar to Apple Pay but this app can be used by every person, for both iOS and Android devices.
The Samsung Pay app works on a number of its devices like Apple Pay does, and the app uses contactless card readers.
Part of WeChat, WePay is a Chinese online payment service provider and is an emerging app internationally. Earlier in this year, the company made an agreement with Dubai Tourism to introduce the service in Dubai though not all options are available for UAE residents as a bank account in China is needed.
Other digital wallets are available in the UAE like Emirates Digital Wallet, EmiratesNBD Pay, and Alipay, a popular digital wallet by Alibaba.
The Central Bank of Bahrain recently revealed its digital transformation indicating the need to move into a cashless economy.
Saudi Telecom Company announced that its electronic payment subsidiary, stc pay has obtained from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) a fintech license as an e-wallet.
“stc pay” is the first licensed fintech company in Saudi and currently has around two million clients, with around 3.2 million downloads for its application on smart devices.
SAMA also approved two digital financial services companies, HalalaH and BayanPay, to launch full e-wallet services, as part of the country’s attempts to reduce use of physical cash.
As of July 2019, according to SAMA, non-cash payments in Saudi Arabia’s retails sector amounted to 36% of all payments.
The kingdom’s Vision 2030 aims to increase non-cash payments to 70% of all payments by 2030.
BayanPay is majority-owned by UAE’s Finablr.
Finablr has brands that include UAE Exchange, Travelex Holdings and Xpress Money.
HalalaH meanwhile now has dual licenses in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Bank- and government-issued E-wallets
eWallet was born out of a joint venture between UAE’s Etisalat and Noor Bank service in partnership with MoneyGram International.
Money transfers can be made digitally to over 350,000 locations consisting of banks, over the counter (OTC) agents, and international mobile wallet operators.
No bank account, credit or debit card? No problem. Users only need a valid Emirates ID and a UAE mobile number to register for the eWallet account and no registration fee, or minimum balance is required.
The eWallet operates in over 200 countries and territories globally, and uses 3 products: Send direct to bank account, Send direct to mobile wallets and the traditional Over-the-counter (OTC).
Dubai’s Department of Finance (DOF), in collaboration with Smart Dubai and emaratech, has also launched a digital wallet to facilitate payments for government and non-government service fees.
The new digital wallet, noqodi uses Dubai Pay, the Dubai Now smart application.
Kuwait Finance House (KFH), and the UAE’s Mashreq Bank rolled out their respective digital wallets.
KFH launched KFH Wallet based on the Mastercard Digital Enablement Services, which replaces card numbers with a digital token unique to a mobile device.
The tokenization feature is also adopted by Mashreq’s MashreqPay, preventing hackers from skimming the card details to commit fraud.
Making the decision to move cashless is the hardest decision to make, but it’s an inescapable one, so make it easy on yourself and get early.