UAE: Physical bank, ID cards long way from becoming obsolete, says expert

People to use them as a safety measure and as a back-up in future


Dhanusha Gokulan

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KT photo/Shihab
KT photo/Shihab

Published: Fri 16 Sep 2022, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 16 Sep 2022, 10:54 PM

Physical bank and identity cards, using microchip technology, are a long way from becoming obsolete, a top official in the payment card manufacturing sector has said. Physical bank cards, including debit, pre-paid, and credit payment cards. In some rare cases, identity cards are also used as payment.

Despite the boom in mobile banking, digital payments, and wearable technology in the UAE, physical cards will continue to remain an essential tool for payment of goods and services, Michael Hraschan, the director of product management payment at Toppan Gravity, told Khaleej Times.

He was speaking at the sidelines of the Khaleej Times DigiBank 2022 – a banking transformation forum.

Toppan Gravity is a global solutions provider primarily focused on the payment and identity industries. Hraschan said, “People would use physical cards for the foreseeable future as a safety measure, and as a back-up, in case they lose the device they are using for their banking purposes.”

“People like the safety of knowing they have a physical copy of a bank card with them, especially when travelling,” he stated.

“Moreover, we are trying to optimise card production and issuance process and set up kiosks where providers can print cards on the spot.”

Hrashcan also suggested that bank cards are a lifestyle or status symbol in some cases. “Having a premium metal card from a certain bank, for example, is a status symbol for many people,” he stated. Moreover, Hraschan said providers could customise cards even for Generation Z users that live and breathes mobile technology. “They would also usher in the era of wearing wearables,” he stated.

Last year, Mastercard announced that from 2024, its credit and debit cards will not be required to have a strip ‘in most markets and will be completely phased out by 2033. It claims to be the first payment network to ditch the magnetic strip. 86 per cent of card transactions globally rely on chip technology, Mastercard said.

Companies such as Toppan Gravity have also said it manufactures sustainable business and eco-friendly cards at their production unit in Sharjah.

“Since the supply and production are largely local, we have a lower carbon footprint. Moreover, we are trying to partner with local companies who can collect old bank and identity cards on our behalf so we can recycle them,” said Hraschan.

Jamal Saleh, the director-general of UAE Banks Federation, said that the UAE has gone up from 63 per cent trust in the banking system to 87 per cent in two years, according to recent surveys. “A big part of it was the digital transformation that has happened in the UAE over the last two years since the pandemic,” said Saleh.

Digital Banking and Finance Excellence Awards

KT photo/Shihab
KT photo/Shihab

The keynote sessions and panel discussions at DigiBank 2022 were followed by the Digital Banking and Finance Excellence Awards. In this glittering event, top banks, financial institutions and technology providers were awarded for their contributions to the financial sector.

Ajman Bank took home the best bank for wealth management award, Policybazaar UAE was awarded the Best Insurance Brand title, and Century Financial won the title of non-Bank Online Trading Broker. Speaking to Khaleej Times after receiving the top honours, Shaheen Akbari, the executive director for Century Financial, said, “It feels very gratifying for a brand like Khaleej Times to recognise our work.”

“We are optimistic about what’s to come, especially in the UAE. There is room for digital and conventional banking to go hand in hand, which may happen in the future. Digital banking has made many strides, especially in how finances are done and in terms of experiences for the end-user is phenomenal. Credit goes to many FinTech companies for coming up with solutions,” said Akbari.

Commenting on how the increase in demand for cloud computing would impact the current banking IT infrastructure, Karthik Ananda Rao, regional technical head of ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corp, said, “The significant increase in demand for cloud computing has now led to edge computing. Data has to be closer to the consumer to effectively and efficiently monitor your business’s success. Cloud adjacent is the next on-premise trend, where organisations leverage cloud colo data centres.”

He added, “The banking industry heavily depends on such cloud computing solutions to improve the services. The need for high availability of services is more pronounced in the banking industry. Intelligent service rendition, automation, one-touch service management, and so on heavily depend on cloud computing solutions for the banking industry. Financial institutions should choose the right service provider to manage their cloud infrastructure without compromising data security, integrity and compliance.”

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