Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, the emirate’s biggest Sharia-compliant lender, has teamed up with Dubai-based digital payments provider Spotii to launch a virtual buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) prepaid card in the UAE.
The announcement comes as the market for payments by instalment on e-commerce purchases continues to grow around the world.
Customers can use the virtual card to make in-store and online purchases and spread out the buying cost across flexible instalment options with zero-financing rates and no hidden fees, the lender said on Wednesday.
ADIB customers can access the Spotii virtual prepaid card through the Spotii mobile app. The service is free of charge and will allow them to load money on to their Spotii virtual prepaid card account to fund purchases.
The BNPL business model, which allows consumers to make online purchases and spread out their payments over interest-free instalments, has boomed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic as more people switched to shopping online.
By 2025, the industry is expected to grow 10 to 15 times its current volume, topping $1 trillion in annual gross merchandise volume by some estimates, according to a report by New York data research consultancy CB Insights.
The business model is booming, with services such as Sweden’s Klarna, US-based Affirm and Australia’s Afterpay offering flexible financing to consumers, according to the 2020 Global Payments Report by payment processor Worldpay Group.
“The e-commerce industry is at an all-time high and we expect the growth to continue at full speed as consumers demand more convenience and immediacy in their shopping experiences,” said Philip King, global head of retail banking at ADIB.
“Through our partnership with Spotii, we want to address the demands and expectations of our customers who want to immediately indulge in their purchases, while allowing them the flexibility to spread payments over time.”
The BNPL prepaid card will provide an alternative to customers who do not have credit cards or those who want a cheaper option with no additional fees or financing costs, Mr King said.
“Buy now pay later is witnessing significant growth globally and the UAE is a key market driving this evolution in the region,” Ziyaad Ahmed, chief operating officer and co-founder of Spotii, said.
“The rapid digital adoption has accelerated the need to provide new innovative solutions to both merchants and consumers alike.”
Australia’s Zip, a global BNPL platform, bought Spotii for $16.25 million in May this year.
In addition to Spotii, there are a number of BNPL players vying for a share of the Middle East market, including Postpay, Cashew, Tabby and Tamara.
In August, ADIB became the first UAE lender to use facial recognition for account opening.
The lender also launched Amwali, a digital-only bank to tap the UAE’s growing segment of tech-savvy youths. The bank will sign up Generation Z youths between the ages of eight and 18 through a smartphone app that comes with a debit card that can be connected to Apple Pay and other mobile wallets.