Al Hilal Bank plans to be the first UAE lender to allow customers to use their Emirates ID cards to make cash withdrawals from its ATM machines.
The Abu Dhabi-based bank said yesterday it was conducting final tests of the scheme in conjunction with the Emirates ID Authority, and hoped that the service would be launched “within the next two to three months”, according to a bank spokeswoman.
However, customers will not initially be able to ditch their current bank cards, as the service will not be available for use in other banks’ machines, or at retail outlets.
Dependent on the success of the scheme, Al Hilal plans to expand the initiative to enable customers to use their ID cards in other banks’ ATM machines, as well as at retail outlets in the UAE, effectively acting as a credit or debit card, the spokeswoman said.
She declined to say when the scheme would be expanded.
According to the Central Bank, some 10.4 million debit and credit cards were in circulation in the country in 2012.
The project is the second major outcome stemming from a strategic partnership agreement signed between Al Hilal and Emirates ID Authority in January of last year.
The partnership agreement saw Al Hilal install e-readers for Emirates ID cards across its branch network, as a means of streamlining the customer identification process.
“We were the first bank to approach EIDA with the unique idea of using their card’s stored information to simplify and streamline the bank account opening process,” said the bank’s group chief executive Mohamed Jamil Berro.“[Now] we will be the first bank to allow the use of Emirates IDs for ATM withdrawals,” he said.
The spokeswoman said that Al Hilal had received the necessary approvals for the move from the Central Bank, but officials there declined to comment.
EIDA’s director general Ali Al Khouri said in January that it was trialling a scheme in conjunction with local financial institutions for using Emirates ID cards in ATMs and credit card terminals.
The authority was also exploring ID authentication services with Visa and MasterCard to enable ID cards to be used for transactions globally. Results of the trial are due to be announced in the second quarter of 2014, he said.
Ala'a Eraiqat, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, last week told delegates at the Government Summit in Dubai that banks were well placed to integrate Emirates ID cards to be able to offer smart services.
Despite such sentiments, other banks have been muted thus far in their response to Al Hilal’s announcement, downplaying suggestions that they will follow suit in the near future.
Mashreq and National Bank of Abu Dhabi said they had no immediate plans to offer similar services that make use of Emirates ID cards for banking services, but that they did not rule out doing so in the future.
An ADCB spokesman declined to comment on the bank’s plans regarding Emirates ID cards, while Emirates NBD and FGB did not respond to requests for comment.
Abu Dhabi Education Council announced on Sunday that children attending public schools could be registered via their ID cards and a proof of residence, a change that it claimed would cut the registration time to three to five minutes from 28 to 32 minutes previously.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority announced last week that it was working with EIDA and the Central Bank on a scheme that will enable residents to use their smartphones as a means of identity by May.