Dubai well positioned for transition to cashless economy


Dubai has positioned itself at the forefront of the transition to a cashless economy, experts said at a recent event hosted by Smart Dubai.

Alongside the Cashless Dubai Working Group and stakeholders from the government and private sectors, the roundtable brought together several professionals to explore ways to engage the private sector in the Cashless Dubai initiative and receive their feedback and official expressions of interest.

The Dubai Government had formed the Cashless Dubai Working Group back in November 2020, bringing Smart Dubai together with various Dubai Government entities to collaborate on setting an action plan to shift all payment transactions in Dubai to secure and easy-to-use cashless platforms across all sectors, as well as to produce a calculated roadmap for the planned transition towards a cashless society.

“Dubai has positioned itself at the forefront of the transition to a cashless economy, having proactively embarked on a Smart City strategy and created a competitive fintech infrastructure,” said Sami Al Qamzi, director general of Dubai Economy.

“At Dubai Economy we are leveraging the unique features of Dubai as a connected business hub as well as our active engagement with the private sector to design innovative solutions that encourage our customers, partners and the public to go cashless. The response we have received from the private sector reassures us that the public-private partnership strategy Dubai has successfully pursued will remain a key driver of the emirate’s digital transformation and sustainable economic development,” he said.

“Smart Dubai is the government entity entrusted with exploring emerging technologies, embedding them into new and advanced services, and remaining on top of major and impactful technological trends,” said Younus Al Nasser, assistant director general of Smart Dubai and CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment. “Going cashless is among the most prominent of these trends, and we believe it is the way forward for businesses of the 21st century. And this is the objective driving the efforts of the Cashless Dubai Working Group, along with our partners from across the government spectrum.”

“Nevertheless, we strongly believe that the private sector is at the heart of Dubai’s successful transition towards a cashless society,” Al Nasser added. “And with that in mind, we sought to convene this meeting and gather influential private companies to explore their appetite to join our effort in turning Dubai fully cashless, work to bridge any gaps preventing them from doing so, and listen to and address any feedback or concerns they may have.”

According to Euromonitor International, 60 per cent of all consumer payment transactions in the UAE were non-cash payments in 2019, and the country stood 20th globally in cashless payments. Non-cash payments in the UAE is set to reach 73 per cent by 2025.

A recent Visa study on cashless cities predicts over Dh8 billion worth of direct annual net benefits for consumers, businesses and governments from going cashless. The estimated gains for consumers will be $0.2 billion, while businesses will gain $1.5 billion and government will have $0.5 billion when a city moves to an ‘achievable level of cashlessness’ – defined as the entire population of a city moving to digital payment usage equivalent to the top 10 per cent of its users today.

“Digital payments have assumed greater significance during this pandemic phase,” said Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, CEO of Corporate Strategic Affairs in Dubai Economy. “Industries and societies adopting cashless payment faster has renewed the urgency for government to work with all stakeholders to implement an inclusive and effective digital payments system that will drive new economic value.”

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