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UAE telco launches mobile wallet

Etisalat signs deal with technology company to offer its customers a mobile wallet service, as fintech expands in the Middle East

UAE telco Etisalat has launched a mobile wallet to enable its customers to make payments and money transfers on their smartphones.

The company is using a platform from Oberthur Technologies. As well as account management, the mobile wallet will provide automatic reports and notifications on transactions.

Etisalat said customers’ appetite for digital payments in the UAE had driven the project. “The UAE is at the forefront of digital  payment  development, so it was critical for Etisalat to provide its subscribers with innovative m-commerce and m-banking services,” said Rashed Al Abbar, vice-president of consumer innovations at the company.

This is a sign of a trend in the Middle East similar to that seen in Europe, Asia and North America, with technology companies looking to take a slice of financial services business.

For example, mobile operator Telefonica’s German business division recently launched a mobile-based bank account, and O2 Banking is using technology from Fidor Bank as a rebranded white label service. Fidor bank, which launched in Germany in 2007, has an office in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis park.

But while these alternative financial platforms have become the norm in the world’s fintech hotspots, including parts of Asia and Europe, experts says this global trend has yet to infiltrate the Middle East.

The latest report from FinTech Week said less than 0.1% of fintech investment originates in the Middle East. “Consequently, the region’s banks and fintech startups are lagging behind their foreign counterparts in the development of new services and business models,” David Martinez de Lecea, a principal at Roland Berger, told Computer Weekly in June.

But the region is now seeing increased investment in financial services technology. Last week, Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange said it would provide access to documents on listed firms via mobile devices through a blockchain-based system, while Emirates NBD banking group announced a pilot for the use of blockchain for transactions between the UAE and India.

Source: Computer Weekly

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