Voice of the Industry

Fintech forwards: exploring trends and innovations in the UAE

Wednesday 24 April 2024 12:24 CET | Editor: Alin Popa | Voice of the industry

Business strategy expert, Ather Rizvi, talks about what are the main trends and developments that are shaping the UAE payments landscape.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands at the forefront of the fintech revolution, a testament to its dynamic approach towards financial technology. This article delves into the vibrant ecosystem of fintech payments within the UAE, highlighting not just the startups and established companies steering this shift but also focusing on the nuances of cross-border payments, tipping services, and the transformative power of digital IDs in customer onboarding. 

Rise of Fintech in UAE

In the UAE, fintech has rapidly evolved from a buzzword to a fundamental part of the economic fabric. The government's proactive stance, including regulatory sandboxes and financial incentives, has nurtured an environment ripe for digital innovation. This fertile ground has allowed fintech startups to thrive alongside established giants, together pushing the boundaries of what's possible in financial services. The result is a robust ecosystem where cutting-edge solutions in payments, personal finance, and beyond are not just welcomed but celebrated. The UAE's ambitious vision for a cashless society further underscores its commitment to becoming a global fintech hub, attracting talent and investment from across the world.

Startups and established companies

The fintech landscape in the UAE is a vibrant mix of agile startups and established financial institutes, each playing a crucial role in shaping the future of payments. Startups like PayTabs and NowMoney are redefining online payments and payroll services respectively, offering solutions tailored to the region's unique market needs. These companies excel in providing innovative, user-friendly platforms that cater to both businesses and individuals, emphasising the importance of accessibility in the digital age.

On the other side, traditional banks are not standing by idly. Emirates NBD, for example, has launched its own digital bank, Liv, aimed at the tech-savvy younger generation, offering a suite of online services from payments to budget tracking. This synergy between the old and the new signifies a collaborative effort towards a unified goal: to streamline financial transactions and make them as frictionless as possible for the end-user.

Cross-border payments

In a global hub like the UAE, where expatriates make up a significant portion of the population, the demand for efficient cross-border payment solutions is high. Fintech companies are stepping up, leveraging blockchain and other advanced technologies to offer faster, cheaper, and more transparent transactions. Ripple, an international blockchain payment platform, has partnered with several UAE banks to facilitate real-time international payments, significantly reducing the transaction time from days to just seconds. This innovation not only benefits individuals looking to send money abroad but also opens new avenues for businesses in the UAE to operate on a global scale with ease.

Tipping services - a new trend

Tipping platforms are emerging as a novel fintech trend in the UAE, changing how consumers appreciate service providers. EasyTip, a local startup, allows customers to tip with just a tap on their smartphones, eliminating the need for cash. These platforms are integrating seamlessly into various sectors, from restaurants to home services, fostering a culture of gratitude and recognition. The convenience of digital tipping is encouraging more consumers to acknowledge the hard work behind the services they enjoy, enhancing the overall service quality and worker satisfaction in the industry.

Digital ID and customer onboarding

Digital IDs are revolutionising customer onboarding in the UAE's fintech sector, making the process quicker, more secure, and less cumbersome. Fintech startups are at the forefront of adopting digital ID verification to enhance user experience. eKYC (Electronic Know Your Customer) solutions allow companies to verify identities online in minutes, a stark contrast to the traditional paperwork-laden processes. ICP’s (Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Port Security) digital identity initiative, UAE Pass, enables residents to access numerous services across different platforms with a single digital identity, streamlining onboarding and transactions in the fintech ecosystem. This move towards digital ID not only simplifies the onboarding process but also significantly reduces the potential for fraud, building a safer and more trustworthy digital finance environment for consumers.


The fintech payment trends in the UAE, from the rise of startups and digital platforms to innovations in cross-border payments and digital IDs, are making financial transactions more accessible, efficient, and secure. As these trends continue to evolve, they promise to further transform the financial landscape in the region.

About Ather Rizvi

Ather Rizvi is an accomplished leader in business strategy and development with over 20 years of experience across the Middle East and Africa. Specializing in Payments, Identity, and Card Solutions. He currently serves as a consultant and advisor in Dubai for payment industry startups.

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Keywords: fintech, cross-border payments, digital identity, digital onboarding, startup, regulatory sandbox
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: United Arab Emirates
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce