UAE: No more card payments? Soon, just wave your palm for purchases

Free for users, Palm Pay will be rolled out gradually throughout 2024

by

Sahim Salim

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Tue 7 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 May 2024, 8:09 AM

You could soon hover your palm in front of machines to pay for your purchases at stores across the UAE. That means no more swiping your bank cards or phones at cash counters after shopping.

“The rollout of the Palm Pay technology is planned to happen gradually throughout 2024,” Abdallah Abu Sheikh, founder of the technology development group Astra Tech, told Khaleej Times. The company launched the payment solution through its fintech subsidiary PayBy at the Dubai Fintech Summit.


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Palm Pay is a contactless palm recognition service that enables payments using biometric authentication methods. Payment machines will read customers’ palm prints to authenticate transactions.


“We currently have a certain number of machines which will be used for testing purposes within the local market infrastructure. (This will) ensure complete readiness for scaling to over 50,000 PayBy merchants throughout the year,” Sheikh said. “We’re currently ironing out final details to ensure that Palm Pay rolls out seamlessly this year.”

The company is exploring integrating the technology with banks “in the future”, enabling users to directly link their accounts with it.

How customers can sign up

The technology will be free for users. “In the first phase, users will be able to register through the device itself at the point of sale. In the future, the palm authentication process will be integrated into apps (like PayBy and Botim) to allow customers to easily update their accounts with their palm prints through an authentication feature on their phone, just like the facial recognition authentication process works today.

“They will then be able to use the Palm Pay technology for payments by only waving their palms at all merchants that adopt this innovative technology, providing immediate access and convenience,” said Sheikh.

The company said the technology is a more secure alternative to traditional card payments and other payment technologies.

Integration

Another key feature is the technology’s integration with existing point of sale systems.

“Merchants interested in being early adopters and implementing this technology during the initial phase of the rollout can contact their account managers to sign up and express their interest in receiving the technology.”

According to Sheikh, the technology is not limited to specific sectors. It holds “strong potential and is scalable”.

“However, we do recognise the tremendous potential for Palm Pay in sectors with high customer traffic, such as the retail sector,” he said.

It is a “cost-effective solution” for merchants and furthers “financial inclusion for the unbanked population”, the company added.

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