Dubai poised for rapid contactless economy growth

The global contactless economy is booming, and companies based in Dubai Internet City (DIC) are playing an integral role in positioning Dubai as an incubator and exporter of innovative contactless technologies that have gained new importance as consumers move away from cash.

Contactless services are seeing a steep rise in demand due to better user experiences and innovative interaction methods between users and devices. Digital payment providers are working hard to reduce friction points and provide a seamless journey. At the same time, more brick-and-mortar stores continue to embrace an exciting new era of omnichannel retail.

Against this backdrop, DIC is quickly becoming a global hub for digital payment innovations with its partners using their innovation centres to further support and grow the contactless and digital economy.

Ammar Al Malik, Managing Director of DIC, said: “We are pleased to see such solutions from global powerhouses that are part of DIC such as Visa. This consolidates our business district’s status as a global tech and talent hub that fosters innovation. With the ground-breaking solutions they bring to market, these companies help us achieve our goal of supporting Dubai’s diversification in line with the vision of our leaders to maximise the massive and promising potential of the digital economy. We see huge opportunities for startups, freelancers and multinational corporations to come together to test and develop cutting-edge contactless payment technologies in an agile ecosystem that provides state-of-the-art infrastructure, access to talent and cost-effective business solutions.”

The region’s largest business district for technology and innovation is home to several major players in the contactless tech space.

Meanwhile, Visa, the global leader in digital payments, is building its headquarters for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region in DIC that supports the company’s capabilities across almost 90 countries. Visa already has an Innovation Centre in Dubai, where it co-develops innovative digital payment solutions with partners across CEMEA and the new location will have an expanded and updated Innovation Centre aimed at showcasing the latest in cashless solutions and opportunities for clients and partners.

Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s General Manager for the UAE, said, “Even before the pandemic, contactless payments were popular in the UAE. The pandemic has only increased their appeal among consumers who want to be able to make payments in the safest and most hygienic way possible. In fact, the findings of our Back to Business Study – 2021 Outlook show that UAE consumers have adjusted their payment habits during the pandemic with 77 percent of respondents using contactless payments where possible. For many businesses, the transition to contactless payments has become a matter of survival during the pandemic. Recognising the increased popularity of contactless payments among their consumers, 82 percent of UAE merchants surveyed in our Small Business Recovery 2021 study said they see digital payments – including contactless – as a necessary investment in business recovery and growth. As a trusted engine of commerce, Visa remains committed to working with DIC, the region’s leading tech community, and providing opportunities to support the growth of digital commerce.”

The value of the global contactless economy is expected to double to AED 1.1 trillion by 2024. The COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the development of the sector. In line with the universal measures to curb the spread of the virus, many establishments are now expressing clear preference for contactless payment, and some even refrain from accepting cash. In addition to the original motivating factor – convenience – hygiene and safety are now driving the adoption of contactless payment solutions.

Growing uptake of digitisation and paperless transactions will also contribute to Smart Dubai’s Dubai Paperless Strategy which aims to see emirate become 100 percent digital by the end of 2021.

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