Department of Finance driving digital adoption

The Department of Finance’s initiative, the Day without Service Centres, has helped to raise awareness and educate the public on the benefits of digital channels for government services

Tags: Customer experienceCustomer serviceDubai Department of FinanceUnited Arab Emirates
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Department of Finance driving digital adoption The Day without Service Centres helped raise awareness among users that they had other options than visiting a service centre in person, says Al Saleh.
By  Mark Sutton Published  January 2, 2018

In the field of digital transformation, Dubai and its government entities have staked a claim to be global leaders, from the early adoption of e-government and online services, through to the development of smart m-government and beyond. The public sector in Dubai has embraced the digitisation of services, with many services and transactions available online.

While the public as a whole has embraced these services, with digital transactions becoming the norm for most people, online services have not yet reached every part of the community. Dubai has high targets to meet for digital adoption, so in order to reach every user with digital services, the government has had to come up with new ideas and ways to convert more people into digital service users.

This was the background to Dubai’s first ever ‘Day without Service Centres’, an innovation from Dubai Government’s Department of Finance, to create awareness of digital services and convince customers to try out the online transactional services that are available.

His Excellency Abdulrahman Al Saleh Director General of the Department of Finance told .GOV that the idea for the Day without Service Centres had come from the Department’s own internal suggestion scheme, as a proposal to increase the number of financial transactions processed through digital systems, and the idea was escalated, and well-received, across other Dubai government entities.

Al Saleh explained: “Government departments have really done a good job in developing different means for allowing customers to pay in different smart ways, rather than traditional means of payments, but not much awareness was done parallel to that, so that was why we brought in this initiative.

“Because we are in charge of public revenues, our role includes managing payment processes, and we believe that smart payments will help us reduce paperwork. Working together with the other departments, we started this initiative, and the main purpose was to increase the awareness of what services are available and how they can benefit the customers,” he added.

Dubai has already set out ambitious targets to create more efficiency based on digital services. The Smart Dubai 2021 Initiative, launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai this year, aims to make the last paper transaction in government by 2021, while other plans have been put in place to reduce visits to service centres by 80% by 2018. The Day Without Service Centres builds on those plans, Al Saleh said, with the Department of Finance creating a brand and a logo for the event, and making it available to all government departments to use.

As the financial arm of Dubai government, the Department of Finance supports a number of organisations with alternative financial payment channels, so promoting these channels will help the department to improve its own efficiency as well as meet the wider strategic goals of the government.

For the Day without Service Centres, 36 government departments participated, along with government partner organisations, with over 100 service centres taking part. For the day of the the initiative, the centres stayed open although service counters did not accept payment transactions for any service which could be completed by alternate channels, with exceptions made for elderly and disabled visitors. Service centre staff had been trained and were on hand to explain alternative payment channels and digital services to visitors and to demonstrate how to use them. The initiative was also supported with things like prizes given away at some of the service centres.

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