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Is there a clear winner in the UAE’s mobile payment battle?

What happened after Apple Pay made its entry into the UAE late October is that for businesses, it has proven its attractiveness as a contactless payment technology.

Apple Pay was launched in 2014 and grown exponentially to over 4,000 financial institutions globally catering to over 20 million with 4000 credit card issuers, ranging from Visa, Mastercard, American Express and others.

Globally, it is already dominant.

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Techcrunch, a tech industry portal, estimates that Apple Pay accounts for 90 percent of all mobile contactless transactions globally.

Locally, it could be well on its way to doing just that.

What’s in stores for ApplePay?

Between October 24 and 26, 3 main businesses announced that they would accept Apple Pay

Landmark Group, a leading Middle East’s retail and hospitality conglomerate, with brand names including Home Centre, Splash, Max, Babyshop, Lifestyle, Centrepoint, Shoe Mart, Shoe Express, Home Box, SportsOne, Emax and Iconic announced the launch of Apple Pay, promoting it as an easy, secure and private way to pay that’s fast and convenient.

“Apple Pay is available across all the Group’s retail stores and E-commerce sites and apps in the UAE, on the very first day of the Apple Pay launch in the country,” said Savitar Jagtiani, Chief Digital Officer, adding, “ Apple Pay is a remarkably simple, convenient, secure and private mobile payment system that makes shopping experiences easier across our stores, sites and apps. We’re encouraged by the global success Apple Pay has already achieved and look forward to delighting our shoppers with it regardless of channel.”

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Security and privacy are at the core of Apple Pay. When you use a Credit or Debit Card with Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers. Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on your device. Each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique dynamic security code.

Apple Pay is now available at all Landmark retail stores, including Home Centre, Splash, Max, Babyshop, Lifestyle, Centrepoint, Shoe Mart, Shoe Express, Home Box, SportsOne, Emax and Iconic. It’s also available at all the Group’s international brands like New Look, Reiss, Lipsy, Koton, Steve

Visa gives Apple Pay credit

Visa, announced on October 24 that it brought Apple Pay to its UAE-based cardholders.

“Enabled in part with Visa’s tokenization security, Apple Pay will benefit Visa cardholders across the UAE allowing them to make payments directly from their Apple devices while ensuring that their financial details are more secure than ever before,” it said in a statement.

It said a recently commissioned survey showed over 72 percent of UAE residents use their smartphones for more than three hours a day and the consumer demand for alternative, convenient and secure delivery channels is high.

Commenting on the announcement, Nathan Cushnie, Visa Head of Digital Solutions for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Apple Pay launches at an opportune time for Visa cardholders, offering them a secure and seamless payment experience.”

Emirates Islamic’s vote of confidence

One of the leading Islamic financial institutions in the UAE, Emirates Islamic announced on October 24, that its customers can now use Apple Pay.

As an initial offer, Emirates Islamic will give AED100 ($27) to its customers on first usage of Apple Pay.

Commenting on the announcement, Wasim Saifi, Deputy CEO – Consumer Banking and Wealth Management, Emirates Islamic said: “Digital transformation with a customer-centric focus is key to our growth strategy and we remain committed to offering products and services that are aligned to our customers’.”

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Samsung vs Apple

Samsung Pay was released for consumers in the UAE six months ago, before last October’s Apple Pay launch and both allow the user to pay using their Galaxy smartphones or iPhones.

According to technology platform Tech Radar, the total number of devices that work with Samsung Pay are twelve phones and two wearables, while for Apple Pay it’s ten phones, three wearables and a lot of Macs.

Apple Pay a clear winner here.

It added that not all banks are supported by either platform but as of late October, Samsung had ADCB, Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, NBAD, RAK Bank, and Standard Chartered.

Apple, on the other hand, had Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, RAK Bank, Standard Chartered, and Emirates Islamic.

“Samsung Pay supports one more bank than Apple Pay at the moment and from what we’ve heard, two more banks are joining by the end of November. This puts Samsung Pay in the lead with the number of supported banks,” the site said.

Odds favor Samsung here.

Anna Woloszczenko, media director at Starcom recently said: A major engine behind this diversified scope in MENA has been the fast-growing on-demand economy, premised on connected tech platforms and apps that push for the automatic integration of consumer credit cards including in-store mobile payments (such as Samsung and Apple Pay) for physical product purchases.”