Dubai preps mobile phone number-based payments system

Dubai preps mobile phone number-based payments system

People in Dubai will soon be able to ditch cash, cards and handsets, making instore and online payments using their mobile numbers.

Backed by the Dubai Smart Government (DSG), a project this year will see the technology of Quisk Middle East integrated into the UAE-wide POS merchant network of Network International.

The cloud-based Quisk system uses mobile phone numbers and a secured PIN to create and access a new type of digital cash account. Users do not need smart phones or mobile operator services, simply entering their details at checkout, instore and online, including to pay bills and access government services.

Bhairav Trivedi, CEO, Network International, says: "This solution heralds a new era of cashless payments across the region, enabling people to conduct transactions anytime and anywhere, in line with Dubai Smart Government’s smart transformation initiatives to support Dubai’s aspirations."

HE Wesam Al Abbas Lootah, CEO, DSG, adds: "Signing a strategic partnership contract with Dubai-based Quisk Middle East and Network International to activate a smart payment service channel for individual and corporate retail customers via mobile phone numbers will enhance our corporate vision of establishing a distinctive smart city that offers the world a new and unique model of developing cities."

Comments: (20)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 09:241 like 1 like

Can someone pinch me, please! Ouch!! Thank you. No, it's still there...

2016: X% of population in the region has either a contactless bank card or (gold, and I don't mean the colour) iPhone (or at least an Android one with contactless payment capability). Visa and MC mandated that ALL payment terminals in Europe are contactless-enabled by 2020.

Why would someone try and re-invent the fast rolling wheel of that monster truck pressing forward?! Who thought that entering an 11-digit number plus PIN is better than tapping a card or a phone or a watch?.. Has anyone thought of how secure a combination of 15-digits (i.e NUMBERS!!) really is - compared to a SECURE ELEMENT (aka "chip").

Pinch me again, please!

VijayaRaghavan Raju
VijayaRaghavan Raju - Capgemini Financial Services - Dubai 13 January, 2016, 09:29Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This will be a great initiative especially to the numerous unbanked workers in the country. Even for the others, it takes away the dependency on their mobile phones being NFC enabled. Great initiative once again by UAE.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 09:331 like 1 like

What's wrong with a humble, ubiquitious, reliable, simple, easy, secure, globally-used (prepaid if needed) $1 cEMV card?..

"Just because we can?".. M-Pesa was created where there were no terminals. In Dubai, we are talking about conventional retail environment.

VijayaRaghavan Raju
VijayaRaghavan Raju - Capgemini Financial Services - Dubai 13 January, 2016, 09:37Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

The operatibve word is the unbanked workers. They dont have easy access to the banking systems, and hence can do most of their transactions via a mobile based wallet to which their salaries are credited. It would be much easier for them to key in their mobile number and PIN.

Muhammad Ahsan Sheikh
Muhammad Ahsan Sheikh - Sharjah Islamic Bank - sharjah 13 January, 2016, 09:401 like 1 like

Alexander and VijayaRaghavan Raju , this could also be an end to holding card plastic with yourself and bulking up your wallets. what is your take on that?

VijayaRaghavan Raju
VijayaRaghavan Raju - Capgemini Financial Services - Dubai 13 January, 2016, 09:44Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Muhammad - Valid point. But a mobile based wallet platform (for instance one like Beam in the UAE) is a good replacement for plastic cards. Of course the underlying instrument continues to be a card issued by a bank of a financial institution. My point is that the mobile based payments system will be helpful on both fronts - 1. in getting rid of plastic cards and thereby fat wallets, and 2. for the unbanked masses who dont have hte privilege of having bank accounts or plastic cards. Hence, for me this is a great move by the UAE Government.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 09:472 likes 2 likes

Or there's this, launching imminently with contactless to follow...www.dubaicard.com. Personalise, reloadable prepaid cards from unattended kiosks.

VijayaRaghavan Raju
VijayaRaghavan Raju - Capgemini Financial Services - Dubai 13 January, 2016, 09:51Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Nick Holt - Dubai Card is a card that needs either ann underlying bank account, or cash in hand to load funds, doesnt it?

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 09:511 like 1 like

Nick, exactly my point.

VR, was/is Capgemini involved with that/similar projects?..

Mihammad, horses for corses. Either the target audience doesn't have fat wallets, or they do. Either the target audience can place a secure compact stylish NFC sticker on the back of their mobiles, or they cannot. In either case, that solution IS an isolated one (which could make sense IF that was the intention) and, IMHO, is not the best way forward (could be wrong as I don't have the complete picture).

VijayaRaghavan Raju
VijayaRaghavan Raju - Capgemini Financial Services - Dubai 13 January, 2016, 09:53Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Alex - I dont think CG has been involved in such projects, at least in this region.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 09:53Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Inital load at the kiosk with cash. Top up either back at the kiosk with cash or card or online via debit or credit card. There'll be more load channels to follow.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 09:55Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

VR, *any* payment mechanism (apart from pure cash) needs an underlying a/c (bank- or MNO-based).

As for cash, MNO-based solution keeps things opaque. Is that what the UAE Gov't wants. If unbankables ARE there (and ARE an important part of the local economy), why not address THAT need?..

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 09:561 like 1 like

Guys, are we debating the unbankable population or the use of PayPal-style (ditched long time ago for the obvious reasons) payment solution which is presented as a revolution?..

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 09:591 like 1 like

Alex, the market is an interesting one. Roughly half the population is cash rich and therefore cash is ssome fairly extensive researchtill king when it comes to POS (about 90% of POS is cash). The other half (in terms of numbers of people, not spend) are migrant workers who are mainly unbanked. We looked at a bunch of different solution to target both segments as efficiently as we could starting with that first population and thats why we settled on EMV (forgive me, I have a scheme background...). Contactless terminal penetration is still in it's infancy though hence single interface cards initially. Based on some fairly extensive research, niche mobile solutions are exactly that and whilst they'll grab headlines (mobile payments always do) they probably won't gain a lot of traction...in my humble opinion.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 10:02Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

*apologies for the appalling grammar, I'm typing on my phone*

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 January, 2016, 10:59Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thank you, Nick. Understood now.

Matt Scott
Matt Scott - RenovITe Technologies Inc - London 13 January, 2016, 16:091 like 1 like

I'll take a wager that the UX for this is poor and consumers stick to using Cash - until they are presented with an option that has less friction at the point of sale.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 14 January, 2016, 08:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

If we are talking about migrant worekers that are unbanked - there is also the issue of trust in digital payments and indeed debit accounts with their funds. Is the trust better for a telco wallet? The typical migrant worker would have a prepaid mobile phone extension obtained at a conveniency store and "recharged" with cash. Will a service like this see user uptake when the user interface is to key in your 15 digtt monile no + a pincode. What about "skimming" the phone no and the pin - giving access to the funds in the wallet? Is the system PCI compliant and is the pin generated in a secure manner and entered on POS devices that encrypt the pin before sending the trx request to the wallet host does the POS have good shoulder surfing protection?

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 14 January, 2016, 08:44Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

If there is secure retail enviroment, one could use cash to "load" prepaid EMV card to be used at that and other retail locations. Otherwise a simple camera can harvest an unlimited number of payment credentials which can then be used by anyone.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 15 January, 2016, 12:05Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

@MattScott + 1.

Just that cash / plastic seems to be more convenient even when compared to Apple Pay, which is arguably the most frictionless mobile payment. 

95% of Apple Pay eligible instore payments still happen by cash / plastic (http://www.pymnts.com/opinion/karen-webster/2015/five-from-15-the-2016-payments-pace-setters)

Apple Pay usage has actually dropped in Year 2 compared to Year 1 (https://twitter.com/s_ketharaman/status/685484148631453696).

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