Behind the Idea Fintech Middle East & Africa

Behind the Idea: Edenred

Edenred UAE is a fast-growing payroll service provider serving more than 6,000 companies, 2 million employees, over 10 banks and 35 financial institutions. Operating out of Dubai since 2008, Edenred remains committed to empowering the company by simplifying payroll for businesses and improving the quality of life for employees with smart products.

Its products include holistic payroll solutions, such as enabling businesses to manage their employees’ salaries more efficiently and in compliance with the Wage Protection System (WPS) established by the UAE Central Bank. Or providing access by their employees to essential financial services – by offering a Mastercard linked to C3Pay mobile app.

Anouar Bourakkadi Idrissi is the CEO at Edenred

As CEO, Anouar Bourakkadi Idrissi drives Edenred’s passion to empower the unbanked employees, offering more than just a bank account. The company instead offers tools to manage their income streams and plan for their future. And more importantly to connect them to the formal financial system, allowing access to build assets, mitigate shocks related to emergencies, illness, or injury while making productive investments.

In this week’s Behind the Idea, he explains how.

What has been the traditional response to financial technology innovations in your company?

Typically, we are proactive in identifying the underlying problems payroll managers encounter, by building close relationships with our existing customers and their employees to understand their necessities and simultaneously serving both these segments with Edenred payroll platform, payroll cards and C3Pay mobile app.

Employers more than ever now are concerned about the pace of their salary processing to enhance their employee experience, but also the status of their fund transfer and managing their employees in one place especially from a remote environment. By focusing on improving the employee experience, the world’s leading brands have discovered that there are positive knock-on effects: not just to traditional HR metrics like turnover and absentee rates, but also on customer experience and overall profitability.

We have successfully identified these trends in payroll manager’s upcoming requirements as the economy revive, and are already noticing a drastic hike in demand for these functions from our customers. Our team here at Edenred UAE are gearing up to extend a refreshing experience to payroll by the beginning of 2021.

With digital payments becoming a necessity in the economy for safer alternatives, we are expecting more early adopters to the updates we are pushing on our payroll platform and C3Pay mobile app.

How has this changed over the past few years?

Traditionally, employees are accustomed to offline techniques to transfer money abroad to their home countries, and still holds up as the top priority especially among immigrant workers A survey revealed that the very reason modest income individuals tend to turn to financial alternatives for their banking needs is because they have concerns about privacy and trust. Changing this mindset and to get them onboard the digital wagon is not an easy task, considering they are for the first time operating from inside the banking ecosystem.

 Over the course of UAE’s roadmap to a cashless economy, the demand for secure and convenient digital solutions overpowered the requirement for walk-in transactions at the counter.

Customers are now expecting secure financial transactions at scale, adapted to the new realities set by the crisis in 2020.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

Beyond migrating our data to cloud for enhanced user-experience and security, our team has been agile in adapting to the new reality that the pandemic has brought in, during 2020. It was extremely important for each and every member of the team to build trust with our consumers. Adapting our customer service experience and introducing new tools to address customer’s acute needs was treated with utmost importance to forge stronger ties in the post Covid-19 era.

Recently, we have crossed the milestone of 500 million Dirhams sent by cardholders to their home countries, which is another important metric which attributes our integrity in driving the end-users experience and keeping them at the centre of our operations to build a customer-centric brand in the fin-tech industry.

At the onset of the pandemic, the team equipped themselves with the right tools for remote working and communication and completed mandatory training for fraud detection to ensure our client and users are safe during this time and we provide impeccable security measures. 

What Fintech ideas have been implemented in your company?

We take up security on our payroll platform and C3Pay mobile app, as a critical extension to our product, all around the year.

Migrating our datasets to cloud has significantly improved the payroll manager’s platform experience in processing salaries quicker than ever with 0 interruptions in service and 99.99% uptime guarantee.

For mobile app users, this has reflected in the overall performance, but also with a new intuitive UI which helps them access their financial information at a single tap. To respond to the crisis and the economic threats, we also enabled additional security layers to protect their salary, at all times, with a dedicated multi-language call centre to deliver personal support at scale.

We have also migrated our customer service from email to WhatsApp to enhance the customer experience by making it even more convenient and available 24/7 for our members to get in touch with us via a digital channel they are already highly familiar with and reducing the response time. Additionally, AI, chatbots and automated, self-service technologies were implemented to provide faster responses with accuracy.

 What benefits have these brought?

Mobile app usage has significantly increased matching the demand for safer financial applications, in the market.

With our partners at RAKBANK, we also enable instant money transfer function to help mobile app users remain safe and transact from the comfort of their home, without visiting an ATM or an exchange house to send money abroad.

Connecting with their families during this unprecedented time has evidently cropped up as a critical requirement for our users, and C3Pay app supports them with local and international mobile recharge facility to help them remain connected to their loved ones.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

Businesses in the fintech ecosystem are always a key target for fraudsters. In 2020, fraudsters are creatively finding new ways to steal from banks and their customers. Cutting-edge technologies for KYC and transformative RegTech in the near future will have a clear role to play in alleviating the cumbersome, costly, and time-consuming woes of manual processing and deliver true digital transformation. We’ve seen an unusual hike in unauthorized access attempts and our team has proactively predicted this trend by February 2020 helping us take the precautionary measures and enable security extensions in advance.

For too long, employee engagement was not considered as an integral part of business strategy. Growing challenge of employee engagement and retention in the region is pushing companies to explore additional values to offer to their employees. A recent Glassdoor survey revealed that 87% of employees expect their employer to support them in balancing work and personal commitments.

Payroll managers and HR managers are increasingly looking for reliability and a robust solution which is the key to delivering an impeccable user-experience.

Some may even require personal attention depending on the payroll requirements and deadlines to be met, where Edenred UAE helps them stay compliant with the WPS regulations enforced by the Ministry of Labor.

Can these challenges be aided by Fintech?

Extending critical functions like blocking and unblocking the card, tracking the payroll card statement instantly from their mobile phones are just a few examples of how Edenred UAE is helping cope with this challenge to protect our cardholders.

Companies should view RegTech, FinTech, HR Tech and InsurTech as part of the wider digital transformation process which will help them in solving the challenges of regulatory compliance, scalability, security and proximity.

A support system built to be present on the cardholder’s choice of medium is crucial and we were able to extend a dedicated WhatsApp line to help our users transfer money home, recharge their mobile numbers to connect with their families among other day-to-day priorities.

Additionally, in the near future, we are planning to implement additional security measures such as biometric and enabling facial recognition to process international money transfers.


  • Gina is a fintech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

Related posts

Deloitte Announces Enhancements to Digital Bank Asset Powered by the Salesforce Platform

Mark Walker

Tokenomica Integrates Blockpass’ KYC Connect for Identity Verification

Mark Walker

Productivity at Financial Services Firms Has Fallen Since the Pandemic, Finds ActiveOps

Tom Bleach