Al Etihad Payments: Aani Instant Payments Platform - Redefining UAE's Financial Landscape

Posted on Jan 26, 2024 by Jan Pilbauer, CEO, Al Etihad Payments

In the current era marked by global connectivity and rapid technological evolution, the payments landscape is undergoing a deep and important transformation. At the centre of this transformation is the rise of Instant Payments Systems (IPS), which represent a fundamental shift in policy, regulations, technical capabilities, and commercial models. Instant Payment Systems have been adopted in over 40 countries1 and provide low-cost, convenient, and secure payment services to a wide array of customers of various financial institutions. Approximately 85% of banks2 worldwide acknowledge IPS as a foundational element for future growth and product enhancements.

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates is actively pursuing digital innovation through the Financial Infrastructure Transformation (FIT) Programme. Among other key objectives, the FIT Programme focusses on driving financial inclusion, promoting payment innovation, enhancing security and efficiency, and reducing the cost of payments. There are nine key components designed to expedite digital transformation across the UAE's financial services sector, including the launch of a domestic card scheme, the Aani Instant Payments Platform, introducing open finance, and the issuance of a central bank digital currency. As an integral part of the FIT Programme, a new national payments company called Al Etihad Payments (AEP) was established in 2023 as the operator of financial payments market infrastructure in the UAE. AEP’s scope includes the forthcoming domestic card scheme, open finance services, and the Aani IPS, which was launched in October 2023 with 10 participants.

The Aani platform caters to consumers, businesses, corporate entities, and governments, allowing them to process transactions instantly and securely, 24/7. As an open loop payment system, Aani simplifies the payment process by using only the recipient's mobile number, email, or a QR code, thus eliminating the need to ask for or remember complex IBANs. Importantly, Aani services are available via participating financial institutions’ own apps or through the Aani iOS/Android app, allowing users to connect and transact from their accounts at various financial institutions in one mobile app.

Aani's user-centric design and simplified transaction processes cater to a diverse range of users, including those who may not have traditionally engaged in digital financial services. Any payment account, including licensed wallets and, for some use cases, the UAE’s Wage Protection System (WPS) “salary” cards can be used to originate Aani transactions.

For individuals, Aani's inclusive features empower users by providing a seamless and user-friendly platform, encouraging even those with limited exposure to digital transactions to participate. The commitment to conducting transactions up to AED 50,000 instantly and conveniently, 24/7, enhances financial flexibility for users, breaking down barriers to financial access.

For businesses, Aani's collaboration strategy with licensed financial institutions and payment service providers contributes to financial inclusion by expanding the reach of the platform. Through these partnerships, Aani ensures that businesses, regardless of size, can easily integrate the platform into their financial operations, fostering a more inclusive financial ecosystem.

In addition to Send Money features, Aani’s Request Money capability allows users to ...

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