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UAE residents can expect enhanced payment experiences in the near future.

May 14, 2014 5:35 by

Good news lies ahead for the UAE payments sector, as new technology allows for a safer, more enhanced experience beyond simply making a payment. This is according to Gary Lyons, chief innovations officer for MasterCard Labs, who spoke about the latest innovations at the Cards and Payments conference on Tuesday, 13 May.

“People don’t wake up every morning and say ‘I can’t wait to make a payment!’ But it’s not just about payments anymore, it’s about the experience,” says Lyons. MasterCard Labs is a subsidiary of MasterCard that is dedicated to the creation of innovative digital solutions.

“Payment is a necessary step, but technology allows us to do so much more,” he says. “Retailers are looking to create better experiences for the customer, so the point of interaction is likely to evolve.”

Speaking about the safety of e-commerce, he adds: “Biometrics is absolutely critical. Now, with the Internet of things, we are moving towards a cashless society, but in this, trust is essential.”

Lyons introduced the audience to the ECG (electro cardiogram) wristband, a device that recognises its user without needing a password. It allows users to make payment transactions from any device. However, it has not made its way to the mainstream market yet.

One mobile payment innovation that has been created and is live in some countries is QKR, which allows the user to browse through a menu, place an order and pay in just a few taps on his or her smartphone. Payments are done using MasterPass, which is one encrypted password that can identify the user across all applications. The retailer receives notification, and can prepare the order and the customer gets a digital receipt. A similar app has been designed for children’s school lunches. It allows parents to order the child’s lunch from the school’s canteen in advance and pay for it electronically, eliminating the danger of giving a child cash. The lunch will be ready and waiting for the child at school on the day requested.

According to Lyons, these apps can be used by customers, while in the restaurant to settle the bill after a meal, eliminating the long wait between actually receiving the bill from the waiter and getting your receipt.

Another innovation allows small businesses to send invoices and receipts within seconds from their mobile devices, as well as monitoring all payments and even issuing refunds.

With the InPrint app, the user can scan a product such as a watch in a magazine and buy it using their digital device. Lyons said he would be meeting with potential stakeholders in Dubai to introduce these apps into the GCC market.


When asked about people’s tendencies to still cling to cash despite these new innovations, Lyons said the reasons were cultural.

“In some ways we have the highest levels of smart phone and internet penetration, but culturally, people are still attached to cash. But if you are using technology to make someone’s life better, they will eventually use it. For example, imagine being able to order a meal from your seat at the Yankee stadium and having it delivered it to you.”

Dr Ali Mohamed Al Khouri, director general of the Emirates Identity Authority also commented on safety and the way forward in his keynote address. “We have still not exploited the digital age,” he says.

“According to 2013 statistics, e-commerce is expected to grow to $2.5 trillion in the next 3 years,” he adds.

Reiterating the need for more secure payment methods, he concludes: “The expectations bar is rising. With new developments like voice recognition, governments and businesses are being pushed to reinvent themselves.”

He announced at the event that UAE residents will soon be able to use their Emirates ID to make safer e-commerce payments.

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