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UAE central bank programme to accelerate digital transformation

The United Arab Emirates government launches programme to accelerate the digital transformation of the country’s finance sector

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) has launched a programme to speed up the digitisation of the country’s financial sector.

The nine key initiatives of the Financial Infrastructure Transformation (FIT) Programme include, in its first phase, the creation of the country’s first card payment platform, an instant payments system and a digital currency.

“These digital payment initiatives will drive financial inclusion, promote payment innovation, security and efficiency, and achieve a cashless society,” said the CBUAE.

In its second phase, the FIT Programme will also include developments to support strong financial services regulation with SupTech, “supervisory technologies and data management solutions to implement robust supervisory processes and ensure financial stability”, according to the CBUAE.

This phase will also see the creation of an innovation hub for fintech businesses and a financial services cloud.

According to the CBUAE: “The FIT Programme aims to support the financial services sector, promote digital transactions, and enable the UAE’s competitiveness to become the financial and digital payment hub and a centre of excellence for innovation and digital transformation through encouraging innovation and collaboration as well as competition in the financial sector.”

Khaled Mohamed Balama, governor of the CBUAE, said the FIT Programme “embodies the directions and aspirations” of the UAE’s move towards digitising the economy and developing the financial sector.

“We are proud to be building an infrastructure that will support a thriving UAE financial ecosystem and its future growth,” he added. “We will work with our partners to implement the programme, achieve its goals, accelerate the adoption of digital services in the financial sector and attract the best talent.”

Last year, Accenture – alongside suppliers G42 and SIA, the digital payments arm of Nexi Group – was selected by the CBUAE to build and operate the UAE’s national Imediate Payment Instruction (IPI) over the next five years.

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

Central banks across the world are having to devise policies on the use of digital currencies, as consumers move away from cash as their main payment method. The pandemic accelerated the move to digital payments, which do not require as much physical contact and therefore reduce potential Covid-19 transmission.

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