Dubai e-Government plans online direct debit payment

The e-government taskforce has held meetings with the UAE’s major banks, the Central Bank and Comtrust to discuss an online direct debit service.

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By  Greg Wilson Published  March 1, 2003

Dubai e-Government is planning to add an online direct debit payment mechanism to its portal site www.dubai.ae. The e-government taskforce has held meetings with the UAE’s major banks, the Central Bank and Comtrust to discuss using the Central Bank's ATM switch for online direct debit.

The payment service would cover most people to government transactions including the payment for utility bills, the renewal of licences, health cards and work permits.

“Dubai e-Government is working on different fronts to make the electronic services more user-friendly in line with the directives of H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to provide easy payment solutions to the people,” says Salem Al Shair, director e-services, Dubai e-Government.

“The Online Direct Debit facility will be a unified net-based payment system through the portal, allowing direct debit from the personal account of the consumer to the Dubai e-Government account. It will be one of the payment options for online users and we are devising a strategy that will make it a fully secure and quick mode of payment,” he adds.

For the online direct debit system to work consumers will be required to make a written request to their banks authorising Dubai e-Government to debit directly from their personal accounts, through the UAE Central Bank Switch, which controls the ATM transactions.

“The UAE banks, have responded enthusiastically to online direct debit. This face-to-face meeting with the banks gave us an opportunity to drive home the advantages of the system as well as listen to their suggestions and concerns so that the consumer can get the best possible service,” comments Al Shair.

“The various government departments too have shown a highly proactive approach in preparing themselves to migrate to [new] payment modes and offer the public integrated services through the Dubai e-Government portal.”

Banking professionals who attended the briefing supported Dubai e-Government’s initiative to give consumers greater payment options.

“The proposal to make use of the available UAE Switch for Dubai e-Government’s Online Direct Debit has found favour with most banks, but we are also exploring other alternatives,” says Asem Fikree, manager e-banking systems, IT department, Commercial Bank of Dubai.

“We would favour the UAE Switch system for direct debit since it is fast and credible and routed through the Central Bank, unlike international credit cards that have to go through a global network. We would like to pledge all our support to this system,” he adds.

Citibank and National Bank of Dubai also both confirmed their support for the initiative. The e-Government taskforce plans to carry out further discussions with the local banks and fine-tune its payments services.

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