Explained: What is the UAE's new Jaywan card and what are its benefits?

The country's first domestic card will be introduced by banks and financial institutions by the end of June

Jaywan is the UAE’s first national domestic card scheme and is owned and operated by Al Etihad Payments. Photo: Al Etihad Payments
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Jaywan is the UAE’s first national domestic card programme, which aims to boost financial inclusion and reduce the cost of payments in the country.

It is owned and operated by Al Etihad Payments, the country’s new national payments entity, which is a subsidiary of the UAE Central Bank.

The initiative, the latest addition to Al Etihad Payments’ digital payment platforms, aims to enable the growth of e-commerce and digital transactions in the UAE.

It also seeks to increase payment options, enhance the UAE's competitiveness and position the country as a global payments leader.

“The combined impact of Aani, an instant payment platform operational in the UAE, and Jaywan represents a significant advancement for the UAE’s financial sector,” says Vijay Valecha, chief investment officer of Dubai-based Century Financial.

“They pave the way for a more digitalised and interconnected financial landscape.”

Here, Jan Pilbauer, chief executive of Al Etihad Payments, answers The National's questions about the Jaywan card scheme.

What is the Jaywan card?

Jaywan is the UAE’s domestic card scheme. There are many well-established national card schemes around the world. There’s Interac in Canada, Bancomat in Italy, mada in Saudi Arabia, Troy in Turkey and more recently, RuPay in India.

We will now have our own domestic card scheme built specifically for the UAE.

The name means a precious pearl from the UAE’s history.

When will the cards be rolled out?

Certain issuers will unveil the first Jaywan cards by the end of June and many more will be added over the coming months.

We have a handful of first issuers who are in the final certification phase.

Jaywan is designed to be a card for everyone, and its rollout will occur in phases. We are starting with the physical acceptance of the card.

Currently, we are prioritising acquirer acceptance to ensure the card can be widely used before issuing the cards to customers.

We want to make sure they can utilise their Jaywan cards across the entire payments ecosystem. We expect in the next weeks all ATMs and point-of-sale devices will be able to accept the card.

Acquirers like Network International are among the first to activate Jaywan among its merchants.

E-commerce acceptance will come later in the year.

What is the eligibility for this card?

There will be multiple variants of the card tailored for various customer segments.

Jaywan is a national card scheme, so it will be available to all licensed financial institutions that can issue cards and they will offer it to all customer segments.

Once you have an account with a licensed financial institution and they issue cards, you should be eligible to receive a Jaywan card.

For example, Jaywan can be issued as a salary card by an exchange house. Al Etihad Payments will make sure there are benefits on the card, such as discounts for international remittances.

On the other hand, if the card is issued against a bank account, then the issuer can offer benefits such as purchase protections or merchant discounts.

What will be the benefits of using this card?

Our objective is to make sure that Jaywan is efficient and cheaper than alternatives. It will be secure, seamless and reliable.

Al Etihad Payments also wants to create a set of product benefits, so a customer can avail of merchant discounts while using their Jaywan card.

Will customers need to pay a fee to use this card? Also, will it have any specific limit?

Today, most financial institutions do not have charges to issue a debit card. It will stay the same with Jaywan.

In terms of transactions, it’s usually merchants who pay a fee, not the customer.

Limits or risk-management controls are usually set by issuers. I suspect that they will continue similar practices [to] existing debit cards with other schemes.

Is it mandatory for all banks to issue Jaywan cards?

The mandate has not been issued. But Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the UAE Banking Federation and chairman of Mashreq, recently talked about the commitment from all banks to reissue debit cards as Jaywan within two and a half years.

Although there is no formal mandate yet, it's quite common when you have a domestic card scheme that all issuers will launch the new cards.

Once we have the scheme up and running, customers will start seeing their current debit cards being replaced with Jaywan.

Will these cards be co-badged with Mastercard and Visa?

For some use cases, the issuers may decide to issue a mono-badged Jawan debit card, mainly for domestic transactions and those wanting to use benefits tailored for the UAE.

This card would also work in countries where we have established bilateral acceptance. We have such a system among the GCC countries, on ATMs and for point of sale. Jaywan will also be accepted in India in the future.

We also want to make sure that the Jaywan card can be used in other countries where UAE residents travel to.

Issuers can also launch co-badged Jaywan cards together with another international card scheme to facilitate international transactions.

We have created a legal framework for issuers to launch co-badged cards and are very close to signing one of these agreements. We are discussing with other international card schemes.

Is this card targeted at Indian residents in the UAE?

Not at all. India’s RuPay scheme was a big inspiration for this scheme. We formed a partnership with the National Payments Corporation of India and purchased some components of RuPay to use it as some of the cornerstones of Jaywan. But Jaywan is not RuPay.

This card will be issued by financial institutions to all residents in the UAE.

Indian residents in the UAE can use Jaywan in their home country after Al Etihad Payments creates bilateral interoperability.

Are you planning to launch Jaywan credit cards?

We have already established a roadmap of future enhancements for the Jaywan scheme.

We will focus on e-commerce acceptance, tokenisation [loading the card on to a mobile wallet] and further advance fraud and risk-management capabilities.

Maybe in the future, there will be demand for Jaywan credit cards.

What is the purpose of launching the Jaywan card?

There are two reasons. One is financial stability, so the country is not dependent on any third-party providers. You have a cards system which will serve national use cases.

The second reason is to improve financial inclusion. Jaywan aims to do things more efficiently, allow people to use less cash and have more merchants accept card payments.

Updated: June 05, 2024, 3:12 PM