Both open loop and closed loop pre-paid cards grew steadily during 2019. Salary pre-paid cards play an important role in pre-paid cards.
There have been new products appearing, for example, Emirates NBD launched and promoted its Global Cash Card pre-paid card, which offers transactions in 15 different currencies without any transaction fees for payments. The card is usable through the online banking platform, enabling users to transfer money from their regular Emirates NBD account to their GlobalCash Card, making funds accessible and safe while travelling.
Digital platforms are expected to provide opportunities for pre-paid card developers to target new segments, such as pre-paid cards for minors and spend-monitoring apps featuring budgeting tools. Consumers in the country are increasingly adopting digital payments through digital wallets and contactless cards.
Dubai’s Roads & Transportation Authority runs the biggest closed loop pre-paid card platform in the country through its Nol pre-paid cards, which are primarily used for transit fares in the city. However, the government has expanded utilisation of the card into digital wallets and payment for other utilities to the government.
First Abu Dhabi Bank and Emirates NBD continue to lead in open loop pre-paid cards due to servicing large corporate client bases for payroll services. Both are leading banks for the Dubai and Abu Dhabi emirates, which are commercially active and have larger population bases.
While many banks initially offered multicurrency pre-paid cards and travel pre-paid cards, currency exchange houses are better positioned for the issuance of such pre-paid cards due to their greater visibility for currency exchange services as well as point-of-sale presence at key locations in retail as well as travel. Exchange houses such as Al Rostamani Exchange and UAE Exchange are the leading non-banking players in pre-paid cards.
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