RAMANA KUMAR, SVP & HEAD OF PAYMENTS, PERSONAL BANKING GROUP AT FIRST ABU DHABI BANK
Based on your experience, how would you describe the evolution of the payments landscape in the UAE? How has it changed to reflect market demands?
The payments market in the UAE is undergoing a massive transformation. The biggest contributor to this is the cashless vision of the UAE as well as the initiatives of the government and the central bank. The UAE has been at the forefront of adopting new forms of payment, and the usage of digital wallets.
Card payments have grown considerably over the last few years. There have been many initiatives around cash conversion and cheque conversion. Financial inclusion has also contributed to reshaping the payments industry.
What was the latest payment capability you implemented for the bank?
Payments has been one area where we have invested in services that differentiate us from our competition. First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) has implemented many new features, such as the launch of sound-based payments on Payit, the UAE’s first fully featured digital wallet.
We have also invested in artificial intelligence (AI)-driven payment analytics. This helped us to move away from pricing-driven conversations to valuedriven conversations. We have also rolled out application programme interface (API)-driven payment capabilities around remittances on Payit.
All of these capabilities are driven by our vision to help our clients grow stronger. We work with our clients to not only bring them new technical features on the payment channels, but to also help them achieve new growth opportunities through AI and focused campaigns by providing them with invaluable data.
As one of the largest financial institutions in the region, how is FAB promoting financial inclusion?
FAB’s Ratibi Prepaid Card is a market leading wages protection system (WPS) solution for corporates. We have more than 1.7 million WPS cards. The reason corporates work with us for these types of solutions is because we offer end-to-end integrated systems, coupled with cash management systems.
We have also seamlessly integrated the Ratibi cards into the Payit wallet. All WPS customers can now use Payit and can conduct P2P, merchant payments, bill payments, and top up features for mobile phones. Customers can use Payit anytime, anywhere, to send money to a bank account or for cash pick up with a click of a button.
Tell us more about your wallet, Payit, and why it is different to other products?
Payit is the UAE’s first fully featured digital wallet for customers and partners. Any UAE resident with a valid Emirates ID can download and register for free. Customers can load money using a debit card, cash deposit, and request a friend for wallet to wallet transfers or local bank transfers.
The money can be used for person-to person payments, merchant payments, bill payments, top-up for mobiles and it can be used to transfer money internationally to accounts or cash pick up using MoneyGram.
For partners and merchants, Payit offers easy payments solutions through the use of a QR code and sound-based technology which is seamlessly integrated into POS machines. Payit incorporates AI and machine learning tools to drive customer buying behaviours, spend campaigns, offers and new customer acquisitions.
What are your views on new technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning? Where do you see the relevance in the payments space?
AI and machine learning (ML) are going to disrupt the market at such a level that the results would be astonishing. In the payments space today, we are already using AI and ML tools to help our clients analyse data, forecast spends and drive new revenues and market share by channelling marketing campaigns to targeted segments.
AI and ML, coupled with mobile technology, will drive the vision for invisible payments. Solutions around “queue-busting” and invisible checkouts are expected to make payment experiences exciting and even more efficient in the future.
What do you expect will be the most prominent payments industry trends in the next three to five years?
Payments are going to be real time, seamless, and invisible. New features will help in evolving the world of payments including facial recognition, voice recognition, etc. The back-end processing will be driven with tools like blockchain and real time processing.