The United Arab Emirates is to establish its own domestic card scheme in a bid to encourage strategic independence from the Visa/Mastercard duopoly.
The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) and its subsidiary payments infrastructure provider Al-Etihad Payments are to develop and implement the DCS in partnership with NPCI International Payments Ltd (NIPL), which led the development of India’s RuPay card scheme.
Led by former Mastercard and Visa exec Ritesh Shukla, NIPL was established in 2020 by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to sell the technology behind its RuPay network and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to other countries
For the UAE project, NIPL has been commissioned to build the foundational infrastructure, operate the DCS and provide fraud monitoring and data analysis support. The new card scheme is scheduled for introduction in early 2024.
Says Shukla: “Our DCS solution is based on the principles of sovereignty, speed to market, innovation, digitisation, and strategic independence.”
Saif Al Dhaheri, assistant governor – strategy, financial infrastructure and digital transformation at CBUAE comments: “We are pleased to collaborate further with our counterparts in India and are confident that we have chosen the ideal partners to accomplish this venture with. We also look forward to establishing an innovation fund that will look to support the payment systems of India and the UAE, drive R&D, and foster the capabilities of UAE citizens to ensure their effective management of the DCS.”
The latest initiative comes as the central bank launches a new instant payments platform, Aani, capable of giving consumers the ability to split bills and transfer money using just phone numbers, while also enabling businesses to accept payments using QR codes. Eight national banks are onboad at launch with the rest of the country’s financial institutions coming on stream later this year.