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The New Payments Platform Supporting Financial Inclusion in the UAE: Aani

Al Etihad Payments (AEP), a subsidiary of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE), has officially launched ‘Aani’, an instant payments platform aiming to transform the landscape of digital payments in the UAE.

Aani is a key initiative under the Central Bank of the UAE’s Financial Infrastructure Transformation (FIT) programme, signalling a new era of seamless, secure, and instant digital payments. In line with the UAE’s vision of becoming a global digital payment hub, Aani enables licensed financial institutions (LFIs) and payment service providers to offer customers an exceptional user experience.

Aani also offers consumers, businesses, corporates, and government entities a digital payment experience, enabling transactions to be processed instantly and securely 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Aani includes a suite of convenient features allowing users to transfer money instantly using only the recipient’s phone number. Other functions of Aani include ‘Request Money’ and ‘Split Bills’, effectively streamlining various payment experiences. Aani also supports QR codes, facilitating hassle-free, cashless payments at merchants.

Additional functionalities will be introduced in the near future such as real-time direct debit and e-checks. The launch involves participation from eight licensed financial institutions: Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Al Fardan Exchange, Emirates NBD, Finance House, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Habib Bank AG Zurich, Mashreq Bank and National Bank of Fujairah. AEP explained that it is working to onboard the remaining LFIs by year-end 2024.

“A catalyst for economic growth, innovation, and financial inclusion”

AEP has also been working with Magnati, Mashreq/Neo Pay and Network International to enable Aani QR-based payments with merchants, with a view to onboarding tens of thousands of merchants in the coming months through these and other licensed merchant acquirers.

Saif Humaid Al Dhaheri, chairman of Al Etihad Payments, said: “The launch of Aani exemplifies our unwavering commitment to digitise the economy and advance the financial sector, aligning with our visionary leadership’s aspirations and the CBUAE’s objectives.

“Aani is not just a payment platform; it represents a catalyst for economic growth, innovation, and financial inclusion. We remain dedicated to fostering an ecosystem that encourages innovation, competition, and growth, benefiting the entire financial system.”

Jan Pilbauer, CEO of Al Etihad Payments, also added: “We are delighted to introduce Aani, a platform that redefines the digital payment experience and reinforces the UAE’s pioneering position as a global digital payment hub. Collaborating closely with our partners, we are committed to unlocking the full potential of Aani through current and future features that address evolving market needs.”

The launch of Aani follows the announcement of the first Domestic Card Scheme (DCS) in the UAE which further supports the nation’s digitisation agenda, reduces the cost of payments, and enhances the UAE’s competitiveness.

Author

  • Tom joined The Fintech Times in 2022 as part of the operations team; later joining the editorial team as a journalist.

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