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UAE chooses Accenture to develop national payments platform

Consortium led by Accenture to build new payments infrastructure in the United Arab Emirates

Accenture is to head up a consortium to develop and support a national payments infrastructure in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that will enable next-generation payments.

Alongside suppliers G42 and SIA, the digital payments arm of Nexi Group, Accenture was selected by the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) to build and operate the UAE’s National Instant Payment Platform (IPP) over the next five years.

The platform will enable next-generation payments in the region, with real-time payments possible 24 hours a day.

Michael Abbott, Accenture’s banking practice global head, said: “This innovative project will help ease trade and transactions, enhance customer experience and accelerate technological advancements for financial institutions, large businesses, and small and medium-sized enterprises in the UAE and the region.”
IPP will ensure payments meet best practices and international standards, including ISO 20022.
The consortium will also migrate existing payment systems, operate the target financial market infrastructure, and provide the datacentre infrastructure.

Accenture and its partners will deliver complementary services, including overhauling current platforms, systems and two cloud datacentres. It will also develop new capabilities, such as digitising cheque-based payments.

The project comes at a time when the payments industry is rapidly digitising as consumers demand convenience, speed and security. Financial firms in the Middle East are leading the way, with banks in the region the most ardent proponents of a cashless society, with the use of cash expected to reduce dramatically over the next few years.

According to a 2019 study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 60% of banks in the region expect cash to account for less than 5% of total spending within five years. This compares with 48% of banks globally expecting this to be the case.

The survey was carried out before Covid-19 took a grip and governments implemented lockdowns, which has accelerated moves towards cashless societies.

Accenture is currently leading a project to update one of the UK’s core payments systems. In 2020, it was chosen as the technology delivery partner to coordinate the replacement of the Bank of England’s 24-year-old Real-Time Gross Settlement system.

Due for completion in 2025, the replacement of the core system that is used to settle payments between banks will harness the latest digital technologies. On an average day, the system settles about £685bn worth of transactions.

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