Al Etihad Payments & NIPL unite to develop UAE Domestic Card Scheme

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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Al Etihad Payments partners with NIPL
Officials during the signing ceremony.

Al Etihad Payments (AEP), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE), and NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL), have entered into a strategic partnership in order to advance the development of the UAE’s first national Domestic Card Scheme (DCS).

The agreement was signed by Mr. Saif Humaid Al Dhaheri, Assistant Governor – Strategy, Financial Infrastructure and Digital Transformation at CBUAE, and Mr. Dilip Asbe, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NPCI, representing NPCI International Payments Limited.

Khaled Mohamed Balama
Khaled Mohamed Balama
Governor – CBUAE

“The FIT program, as well as the signing of this agreement, underscores CBUAE’s commitment to accelerating the digital transformation of the financial sector and bolstering digital payments, in line with the ambitions of the UAE’s leadership. The development of the DCS is an integral FIT initiative and an achievement in the payments space which seeks to support the growth of digital transactions and e-commerce whilst ensuring business continuity.”

As part of its Financial Infrastructure Transformation (FIT) program introduced in 2023, CBUAE’s launch of Al Etihad Payments aims to implement an innovative, interoperable, and enabling payments infrastructure allowing licensed financial institutions and payment service providers to further enhance customer experience through advanced payment solutions.

It is scheduled to launch in early 2024. The DCS will aim to facilitate the growth of e-commerce and digital transactions in the UAE, bolster financial inclusion, support the nation’s digitization agenda, increase alternative payment options, reduce the cost of payments, and enhance the UAE’s competitiveness and position as a global digital payments leader.

Mr. Saif Al Dhaheri, Assistant Governor – Strategy, Financial Infrastructure and Digital Transformation at CBUAE, said that, “The establishment of a Domestic Card Scheme for the UAE is a momentous step towards achieving the nation’s ambitious digital payments strategy, facilitating the transformation of the UAE’s financial sector, fostering greater financial inclusion and strengthening the country’s economic resilience.”

Mr. Jan Pilbauer, CEO of AEP, stated that, “It is with great pride that we at AEP support the launch of the UAE DCS initiative under the guidance of the CBUAE and its strategic objectives and in collaboration with the NIPL. Through the implementation of best-in-class technologies, we are enabling the UAE’s licensed financial institutions to offer consumers, merchants, and all other stakeholders of the financial system a more robust payment infrastructure, underpinned by a commitment to facilitate the UAE’s digital ambitions.”

“This partnership aligns perfectly with NIPL’s global mission to offer our knowledge and expertise to assist other countries in establishing their own cost-effective and secure payment services. Our DCS solution is based on the principles of sovereignty, speed to market, innovation, digitization, and strategic independence. We firmly believe that our track record of success, particularly in a dynamic market like India, positions us as the ideal partners for this promising endeavor,” commented Mr. Ritesh Shukla, CEO of NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL).

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