Dubai Economy rolls out Unified Payments Network to boost cashless economy

The platform empowers existing digital payment providers and brings onboard underbanked merchants and individuals

The Covid-19 pandemic is encouraging businesses to deploy technologies that will boost the digital payments business. Victor Besa / The National 
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Dubai Economy rolled out a new platform to facilitate cashless transactions as the emirate moves towards its goal of becoming one of the world's top 10 cashless economies.

The Unified Payments Network aims to bring all payment service providers, and unbanked and underbanked merchants, onto the same platform, Dubai Economy said. It is a subsidiary of Dubai Economy’s EngageDXB, an application that engages public and private sectors.

Dubai Economy will seek to accelerate the financial inclusion rate in the UAE through use of the payments network, contributing towards the goal of the UAE to be among the top 10 cashless economies in the world, it said in a statement.

“UPN will enable and accelerate the digital and cashless initiatives aimed to enhance the competitiveness of Dubai and [the] UAE in the digital transformation race globally,” Sami Al Qamzi, director general of Dubai Economy, said on Tuesday at Gitex Technology Week.

It will help achieve the secure and seamless transition of Dubai towards a cashless society in line with the vision of the government and the strategic plans of the recently-formed  Cashless Dubai Working Group, he added.

UPN will enhance current service offerings for all local e-wallet and payment service providers, Dubai Economy said in a statement.

It is free to join to encourage wider merchant adoption and an end-to-end digital payment acceptance solution, capable of processing all digital payments, it added. Covid-19 has spurred digital and contactless payments.

Globally, digital payments are set to grow to $8.26 trillion in 2024, from $4.4tn this year, according to Statista.

The UAE is leading the adoption of digital payments in the Arab world.

A McKinsey survey found UAE consumers are 10 per cent more likely to use a credit card or a digital wallet, with 20 per cent saying they are less likely to use cash when making a payment.

UPN enables merchants to accept all types of payments in one digital account and allows payment service providers to offer their services through its network.

It is also hosting services by local and international payment cards, payment acquirers, banks, exchanges and remittance houses.

“UPN will further reduce the time, efforts and the investment to market and promote new payment products and services,” Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, chief executive of corporate strategic affairs sector at Dubai Economy, said.

“This platform will encourage payment service providers to focus on their offerings and to onboard more users, without investing further on the traditional acceptance network,” he added.