Mashreq: Leading Digital Excellence

Bank will continue to set the standard for digital excellence in the financial industry

By Muzaffar Rizvi

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Kartik Taneja, Head of Payments and Consumer Lending at Mashreq.
Kartik Taneja, Head of Payments and Consumer Lending at Mashreq.

Published: Tue 16 Apr 2024, 9:40 AM

Aani represents a paradigm shift in the way financial transactions are conducted in the UAE, signifying seamless experience, efficiency, transparency, and inclusivity at its core, says an expert.

Kartik Taneja, Head of Payments and Consumer Lending at Mashreq, said the bank will continue to set the standard for digital excellence in the financial industry, driving innovation and fostering financial inclusion in the UAE and beyond.

“At Mashreq, we are committed to driving the adoption of Aani in the UAE through proactive measures and customer-centric initiatives,” Taneja said.

Excerpts from the interview:

Please describe Aani, the new online instant payment platform launched by Etihad Payment under the Central Bank of the UAE?

Aani is a groundbreaking online instant payment platform introduced by Etihad Payment under the Central Bank of the UAE, and this marks a significant leap forward in the world of financial transactions. Aani enables individuals to transfer funds instantaneously to anyone, leveraging simple identifiers such as mobile numbers, email addresses, or Emirates IDs, thereby eliminating the need to grapple with cumbersome IBANs. This transformative approach to payments, already embraced in countries like the UK, China, India, Singapore, and Thailand, not only streamlines transactions but also enhances the overall user experience exponentially.

One of Aani’s distinguishing features lies in its remarkable speed, processing transactions in a matter of seconds — generally under 10 seconds. This unparalleled efficiency allows users to track the status of their transactions in real time, affording them unprecedented transparency and immediacy. Additionally, Aani’s integration across all participating financial institutions’ apps and channels ensures widespread accessibility, accommodating users across diverse banking platforms seamlessly. Aani’s innovative ‘Request Money’ feature adds another layer of convenience, enabling users to effortlessly solicit funds from their contacts with ease. The platform’s versatility is underscored by the introduction of QR codes at the point of sale, offering a convenient solution for merchants facing challenges in accepting card payments. This functionality not only empowers smaller merchants to embrace digital transactions but also fosters a more inclusive financial ecosystem by facilitating real-time money transfers through QR code scanning, thereby democratising access to financial services.

What is Mashreq doing in the field of digital payments in the UAE?

At Mashreq, we are dedicated to advancing digital payments in the UAE, leveraging innovation to enhance convenience and accessibility for all stakeholders in the economy. Our commitment to digital transformation is evident in our range of initiatives aimed at streamlining payment processes and promoting financial inclusion. We have made significant strides in developing a robust digital ecosystem for online banking and digital payments. Our dedication to digital banking innovation is exemplified by Mashreq NEO and NEOBIZ, offering fully integrated, customer-centric digital experiences exclusively tailored for individuals and SMEs in the UAE, respectively. Recognizing the economic benefits of digital payments, including enhanced convenience and efficiency, we continue to lead the way in encouraging their adoption in the UAE and beyond.

One of our key milestones was being the first bank in the region to introduce Alipay, China’s popular mobile and online payment platform. Additionally, we were early adopters of Samsung Pay and Apple Pay when they launched in the UAE, providing our customers with seamless payment experiences. In 2017, we launched Mashreq Pay, our digital wallet, enabling customers to tap and pay at retail outlets for a quicker, easier, and more secure payment experience.

In response to the growing demand for fast and secure payment solutions in e-commerce, we introduced NeoPay in 2022. This paytech business simplifies payments for goods and services, catering to the evolving needs of consumers and businesses. Our partnership with i2c Inc underscores our dedication to innovation. Leveraging i2c’s agile SaaS platform, we are offering innovative payment experiences to consumers, merchants, and fintech clients, supporting the fintech ecosystem in the UAE with unmatched speed, reliability, and security.

At Mashreq, our focus on digital experience is unwavering. We are proud to be the first in the UAE to accept UPI/PhonePe and Alipay, reflecting our commitment to pioneering digital innovations. Our award-winning remittance service, QuickRemit, allows real-time or near-real-time money transfers to 40 countries, providing customers with unparalleled convenience and efficiency. With over 99.5 per cent of payment transactions processed digitally at Mashreq, we continue to set the standard for digital excellence in the financial industry, driving innovation and fostering financial inclusion in the UAE and beyond.

How is Mashreq facilitating businesses involved in this innovative payment platform directly or indirectly?

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.

Aani is live on NEO PAY terminal across multiple merchants and we are constantly adding more merchants for acceptance. NEO PAY is working on enablement of Aani acceptance on ecommerce, which will enable merchant to offer additional form of payments to the customers.

Any other matter related to digital payments you would like to add?

Aani’s collaboration strategy with licensed financial institutions (LFIs) and payment service providers (PSPs) is pivotal to its expansion and increased user base. AEP actively engages in partnerships with LFIs, integrating Aani into their mobile apps. This collaboration benefits both parties: LFIs can provide their customers with access to Aani’s platform, while Aani expands its user base through these established financial entities.

Aani aims to onboard over 70 additional licensed financial institutions in 2024, for a significant expansion of its ecosystem. This collaborative approach extends to Merchant Acquirers, with plans to include all players to facilitate seamless transactions at Point of Sale.

Aani’s new features for 2024 include integration with the Wage Protection System, the launch of the Electronic Direct Debit Authorisation, and facilitating cross-border transactions.

What incentives Mashreq offers under Aani platform?

As part of our dedication to promoting seamless and efficient payment solutions, we are pleased to announce that Mashreq is offering Aani services free of charge to our customers. This decision reflects our commitment to ensuring that our clients experience the benefits of utilising a modern, real-time payment system without any additional financial burden, according to Kartik Taneja, Head of Payments at Mashreq Bank.

Key features of our Aani Instant Payment Services include:

Instant real-time payments: Customers can enjoy near-instantaneous payment transfers, ensuring that their financial transactions are completed swiftly and securely.

24/7 accessibility: Aani ensures that customers and merchants can transact anytime, providing unparalleled convenience and flexibility.

Flexibility: Customers have the flexibility to make payments using various identifiers such as a contact’s phone number, email address, or even their IBAN, facilitating seamless transactions.

Advanced features: Aani incorporates advanced options such as Send Money, Request Money, Split Bill, and QR-based payments, empowering users with comprehensive payment capabilities.

Merchant payments: Merchants benefit from near-instant credits in their bank accounts for transactions made by customers at store locations, enhancing cash flow and operational efficiency.


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