Emirates Development Bank (EDB) supported more than 500 UAE-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to rapidly open bank accounts over the past three months, it said on Tuesday.
EDB's business banking app, designed to give SMEs access to secure digital banking services, allows entrepreneurs to get a business account IBAN reserved within minutes and to have an account activated in 48 hours. The account is free to all SMEs and start-ups across the Emirates and without the criteria of a minimum balance, the bank said in a statement.
Since its launch in September 2021, the app offers businesses a fully operational business bank account, bill payments, invoicing, budgeting and analytics facilities.
"As part of our innovation roadmap, we will continue to add new user-friendly features and banking services on the app in the future. We look forward to building on this success with more innovation in the space," Ahmed Al Naqbi, chief executive of EDB, said.
SMEs are the backbone of the UAE's economy and the country has taken several measures to help boost the sector by easing access to funding, providing mentorship programmes and facilitating exports to international markets.
EDB was founded in 2011 through a merger between Emirates Industrial Bank and Real Estate bank. It aims to provide Dh30 billion ($8.17bn) in financing over the next five years as part of a strategy to support SMEs and the priority industrial sector in the country. The UAE plans to more than double the size of its industrial sector by 2031 to Dh300bn.
The bank will fund industries such as health care, infrastructure, food security and technology, and help to generate 25,000 jobs.
Earlier this week, EDB signed a preliminary agreement with Ajman Bank to offer a credit guarantee and co-lending package for SMEs in the UAE with a focus on the industrial sector. As part of the pact, EDB will provide credit guarantee and/or offer a co-lending programme to Ajman Bank’s SME customers, it said at the time.
Last month, EDB signed a preliminary agreement with the National Bank of Fujairah to offer a credit guarantee and co-lending package for SMEs in priority sectors in the UAE.
The UAE aims to become home to 20 unicorns, or start-ups valued at more than $1bn, by 2031 as part of a programme it launched last month to attract and expand SMEs.
The Entrepreneurial Nation initiative offers support through a series of public-private partnerships that help entrepreneurs set up in the UAE, expand their businesses, export their products and tap into online sales, Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said in November.