Government-backed development agency Dubai Economy has signed an MoU with UK-based smart ID firm Objet Tech to help create and implement emCash, an encrypted digital currency, which people will be able use to pay for various government and non-government services.
Founded on blockchain technology, emCash will be the digital currency in emPay wallet, launched by Dubai Economy subsidiary Emcredit to support contactless payments.
EmPay allows UAE residents to make varied payments, from their daily coffee and children's school fee to utility charges and money transfers, through the near field communication (NFC) option in their phones.
The Government agency says that with emCash, emPay users will have the option of a secure digital currency, and merchants will receive their payments in real time without going through intermediaries.
Muna Al Qassab, CEO, Emcredit, says: "Customers can choose between two payment options on the emPay platform - the existing dirham payment or emCash. While the dirham payment goes through normal settlement procedures, intermediaries and costs, emCash payments are settled directly between the user and merchant. emCash thus gives real time value movement and merchants can pass the cost benefit to the emCash holder."
The blockchain technology deployed allows for distributed and shared ledgers so that control over payments is not limited to any single member in the emPay ecosystem and transactions are recorded instantaneously, adds Al Qassab. Future developments in the works include the provision of peer-to-peer lending, and the recording of credit ratings on the emCash distributed ledger.