Money in Dubai: Banks, ATMs, Cards & Currency Exchange

The most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, is also one of the Middle East’s biggest business hubs. One reason that Dubai attracts people from across the world is that the city has a 0% income tax. Yep, you heard correctly. Dubai dwellers, now numbering 2.7 million people, can pocket all of the cash they earn.

Not surprisingly, the city is developing rapidly as a result, with 20% of the world’s construction cranes located there. Currently the world’s biggest mall, tallest hotel, and largest aquarium are already situated in this stunning city. Visitors not on a budget can also stay at the world’s only 7-star hotel, the Burj al Arab.

What’s the currency in Dubai?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Dirham, usually known as the Emirati Dirham, is the official currency of the UAE. Introduced in 1973, the currency replaced the Qatar and Dubai Riyal. Officially the currency is abbreviated as AED, but DH and Dhs are also used unofficially. It’s divided into 100 fils, which is a modern retranscription of Fals, a medieval Arabic coin.

Characteristics of the United Arab Emirates Dirham
Names and nicknamesEmirates Dirham, Dirham, AED, DH, Dhs
Symbols and abbreviationsWritten as the AED on official exchanges, and unofficially abbreviated to Dh, Dhs.
1 AEDOne dirham is divided into 100 fils.
Dirham coinsDirham coins are available in the commonly used denominations of 25 and 50 fils, as well as the infrequently used 1, 5 and 10 fils coins. A 1 dirham coin is also available.
Durham banknotesDirham banknotes are available in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and the rarely used 1,000.

If you were looking to use cash from back home in Dubai, you won’t have much luck. It’s pretty uncommon to pay for goods and services in Dubai with any currency other than the Dirham. However, International credit and debit cards, such as Visa and Mastercard, are widely accepted at retailers. ATMs are situated nearly everywhere, and foreign debit cards can usually be used in order to take out cash. You can also exchange cash at several locations. But we’ll discuss that later.

What should I know about exchanging money in Dubai?

Foreign visitors to Dubai can exchange their currency both at banks and currency exchanges.

Find an exchange service that offers you fair rates

When in Dubai, keep in mind that you’ll find the best rates if you’re exchanging from US dollars, as the AED is pegged to the dollar. So you’ll receive roughly the same rates (after factoring in added fees) when converting from dollars to dirhams.

Here are some of the best spots in the city to swap cash without losing much.

Often, exchange places, especially at airports and hotels, will attempt to woo customers by advertising their favorite phrases: “0 fees” or “No commission”. But what you see usually isn’t what you get. If you do a quick Google search or use an online currency converter, you’ll discover that your money is worth much more than an exchange bureau or bank is offering you.

The real rate, based on daily trading that occurs at banks and large global finance markets, is referred to as the mid-market rate. This represents what your money is actually worth. Banks and exchange services, however, will often make up their own, much poorer exchange rate and then pocket the difference.

Figure out if rates are better in Dubai or your home country

Sometimes it makes the most sense to convert your cash from your home bank before you go abroad. Other times, however, you can snag a better deal abroad. Through websites such as finder.com, you can compare and contrast the exchange rate of several services at home and in Dubai.

Avoid exchanging too much cash at the airport or your hotel

Airports and hotels have a monopoly over you, charging higher prices due to a shortage of alternative suppliers. Try to exchange only a small amount – such as what you’ll need before reaching an exchange center with a more cost-savvy rate. Your bank account will thank you later.

Ensure your banknotes are damage-free

If you’ve brought cash with you from back home, make sure those bills in your pocket are in good shape. In Dubai, most merchants will refuse to accept any sort of damaged banknotes to exchange. Banks in Dubai will typically take damaged dirhams from their customers, sending them back to a central bank which replaces them.

If you know someone with a bank account in Dubai, transfer money ahead of time for even better savings

With a TransferWise borderless account, you can hold your money in numerous currencies, including Dirhams, so you can transfer to a bank account in Dubai conveniently and at a low-cost. Additionally, you’ll always get the same rate you see on Google when you convert money within your account.

And, in late 2017, you’ll be able to get a debit card to go along with your Borderless account so you can spend money directly from any of your currencies with ease.

Can I use travellers cheques in Dubai?

You can, but it’s not really worth it. Most shops and restaurants in Dubai won’t accept them, but it’s easy enough to exchange them at banks, exchange offices, and hotels, for a much less favorable exchange rate. It’s much better to simply use cash or a debit credit card if you can, which are much more likely to be accepted in Dubai.

What should I know about using my debit and credit cards in Dubai?

Major providers such as Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted at major restaurants, stores and hotels in Dubai, with other cards such as American Express less likely to be accepted. However, not all smaller stores and grocery shops will accept your card. So take caution, and take cash along with you while you’re there.

Always choose to be charged in the local currency

The good news is that several ATMs in Dubai are free to use, especially those of major banks such as Citibank and HSBC, or any bank that’s a member of the Global ATM Alliance.

On the flip side, when you make purchases with your card, or withdraw money from an ATM, you might run into Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). The card merchant or ATM will ask if you’d like to be charged in your home currency rather than the Dirham. It might seem a bit more convenient to do the transaction in a currency you’re more comfortable with. But be warned: you’ll be marked up in price, sometimes at four or more percent, just for the convenience of seeing the numbers in your home currency.

With DCC, you’re granting the local ATM the right to give you whatever exchange rate they feel like, which usually isn’t in your favor. You’re better off doing transactions in the local currency, where your home bank will give you a much better exchange rate, and save you a lot in the long run.

Don’t forget to tell your home bank you’re going to be travelling

It’s happened to many of us. We forget to tell our banks we’ll be heading abroad, and attempt to pay for something with our cards from back home when we arrive. But then we’re told the card has been declined. Don’t let this be you: before you land in Dubai, remember to give your bank or card issuer a heads up you’ll be heading overseas. Otherwise they could think there’s suspicious activity taking place and lock your card.

What are the best practices for using ATMs in Dubai?

A global finance capital, ATMS are found nearly everywhere in Dubai. As long as you have a 4-digit pin number for your card, you can typically withdraw from accounts there.

Still, be sure to watch out for offers to be charged in your home currency rather than the local one. If you see the option, always select to be changed in euros to avoid steeper fees added into poor exchange rates.

If you’re on the lookout for an ATM near you, the website Bankautomat Finder allows you to easily locate ATMs throughout the city.

What are the major banks in Dubai?

Most common retail banks in Dubai

There are several banks operating in Dubai, many with international branches. So if you aren’t sure if your home bank has a branch, it’s worth investigating if they may have a partner in Dubai, which could help reduce overall ATM fees if you find there’s one.

  • Arab Emirates Investment Bank – a boutique bank specializing in both private and investment banking.
  • Commercial Bank of Dubai – founded in 1969, this bank launched the first online personal finance tool in the region.
  • Dubai Islamic Bank – a longstanding bank offering services such as wealth management, in addition to retail banking.
  • Emirates Islamic Bank – Offers many branches and ATMs around Dubai
  • Mashreqbank – Founded in 1967, it’s the oldest bank in the UAE and the first to offer ATMs
  • Emirates NBD – Has more than 220 branches in Dubai and abroad
  • Noor Bank – Offers several services in Islamic banking for retail and corporate clients

International banks operating in Dubai

With a diverse international population, it comes as no surprise that Dubai caters to it’s inhabitants with a broad selection of international banks. Among the larger ones are:

No matter how long you’ll be in Dubai, you shouldn’t have any problem exchanging and spending your money.

Source: https://transferwise.com/gb/blog/money-and-banks-in-dubai

Top 40 Fintech influencers to follow in the Middle East

Over the last couple of years, several changes in technology have an impact on financial and banking services as well. Now everyone is aware of the term FinTech which means usage of technology in the financial sector. Definitely, fintech influencers had their piece of share in making fintech an enormous thing by sharing their ideas and influencing the world of techno-finance. Along with several other nations, the Middle East also have seen many influencers who helped in Fintech growth.

Here’s a list of top Fintech influencers in the Middle East region (not in a specific order)

1. Raja Al Mazrouei

Raja Al Mazrouei is the Executive Vice President of FinTech Hive at the Dubai International Financial Centre(DIFC). She works with an aim to make DIFC as the region’s best innovative destination for Fintech.

2. Arif Amiri

Arif Amiri is the Cheif Executing Officer at Dubai International Financial Center(DIFC). He manages the strategic and operational functions of the center. Currently, DIFC is working towards the fintech development which is a part Arif’s vision for DIFC.

3. Leigh Flounders

Leigh Flounders is the Senior Vice President Head of Digital Strategy and Engagement at Emirates NBD. He bagged several awards till date, amongst which The 2017 South By Southwest(SXSW) Conference FinTech & Payments pitch winner deserves a special mention.

4. Craig Moore

Craig Moore is the founder of Beehive which is the first peer-to-peer lending platform in the Middle East and North Africa(MENA) region. Beehive was launched in November 2014, it connects businesses seeking finance and investors. Till date, it has provided finance to more than 32 SMEs.

5. Kanchan Kumar

Kanchan Kumar is one of the founders of Remitr. Remitr is an end-to-end money transfer platform which was started with an aim to make global payments simple. In the year 2016, it was recognized as one of the most promising startups in the UAE region. 

6. Suvo Sarkar

Suvo Sarkar is the Senior Executive Vice President and Group Head in Retail banking & Wealth management at Emirates NBD. He contributes to the growth of revenue, profits and customer base for the bank by setting new standards for product innovation. He also publishes a column on the changing paradigms in the banking sector. He is considered as a Finovate speaker in the Middle East.

7. Abdulaziz Al Jouf

Abdulaziz Al Jouf is the founder of PayTabs. PayTabs is a payment gateway that provides businesses to transfer funds to each other without any complications. Realizing the difficulties faced by the SME merchants in the MENA region to get a payment gateway, Abdulaziz developed PayTabs. It provides payment solutions to all kinds of business be it small and medium enterprises, large scale organizations, etc.

8. Mirna Sleiman

Mirna Sleiman is the CEO and founder of Fintech Galaxy which is a digital crowdsourcing platform. It connects fintech entrepreneurs and investors. Mirna is the former award-winning financial journalist. She even guided several banks and governments on their digital transformation projects.

9. Sridhar Iyer

Sridhar Iyer is the Head of Mashreq Neo and Banking. Mashreq Neo is the digital banking application that is working with an aim to make banking easy and swift for the customers. This definitely makes a good addition to the growth of fintech in the UAE region.

10. Moussa Beidas

Moussa Beidas is the founder of Bridg, a smartphone app. It is an app which uses Bluetooth to make online payments. It is the first app that works on flight mode as well. Bridg is definitely one of the best fintech innovations. It makes the payment process simple. 

11. Sagar Sanap

Sagar Sanap is the AVP- Digital Sales Lead in Citi Bank. Being expertise in the field of Product strategy, Digital marketing, and campaign management, he is making a good share in the field of fintech.

12. Sam Quawasmi

Sam Quawasmi is one of the founders of the first equity crowdfunding platform Eureeca. It provides equity-based crowdfunding opportunity for the businesses. In the year 2013, Sam Quawasmi and Chris Thomas(Founder of Eureeca) were awarded “Innovator of the Year” award by Gulf Business Industry Awards in the UAE. 

13. Peter Smith

Peter Smith is the managing director, policy and strategy at Dubai Financial Services Authority(DFSA). DFSA regulates the financial services conducted from Dubai International Financial Center(DIFC) which works with a vision to drive the future of finance.

14. Philip King

Philip King is the Global Head of Retail Banking at ADIB. Prior to ADIB, he worked in several other well-known banks. ADIB launched MoneySmart which is the first digital community in the Middle East region. It also added “ADIB Express” to their app in order to provide instant digital services to their customers.

15. Richard Teng

Richard Teng is the CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), Abu Dhabi Global Market(ADGM). The first Fintech Regulatory Laboratory Framework in the MENA region was developed in ADGM under the supervision of Richard. He works in the development of Fintech ecosystem in Abu Dhabi region. 

16. Wai Lum Kwok

Wai Lum Kwok is the Executive Director of Capital Markets, Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), Abu Dhabi Global Market(ADGM). He is known for his efforts and supervision in the development of Fintech in ADGM.

17. Promoth Manghat

Promoth Manghat is the CEO of UAE Exchange. He leads the global operations team of UAE Exchange center. He supervises in expanding UAE Exchange all over the world besides the day-to-day operations of his team.

18. Jayesh Patel

Jayesh Patel is the head of Liv. account of Emirates NBD. Liv. account is the first digital banking account in the UAE region. This account was launched by taking millennials and digital lifestyle into consideration. Liv account is one of the best add-ons to Fintech growth in the UAE. 

19. Stelios Michaelides

Stelios Michaelides was the head of Digital Banking in Commercial Bank of Dubai(CBD). CBD Now is a digital banking product that was launched under the supervision of Stelios. It uses the latest technologies which promote in the safe and simplest way of banking for the customer.

20. Siddiq Farid

Siddiq Farid is the CEO and one of the founders of SmartCrowd. SmartCrowd is a real estate crowdfunding platform in the UAE. It is the only company that is regulated by the DFSA(Dubai Financial Services Authority) and the first company in UAE that supports digital real estate investments.

21. Tanvir Shah

Tanvir Shah is the Managing Director of The Partnerships Consulting. He supervises on banking, payments, fintech strategies, etc. in the MENA region. His works have been recognized by several popular publications like The Banker Middle East, Cards International, etc.

22. Lynnette Abad

Lynnette is the Director of Research and Data at PropertyFinder group. Having technology and real estate as her professional passions, she’s been working on PropTech for maximum time in her career. 

23. Mark Chahwan

Mark is one of the co-founders of Sarwa. Sarwa is an online financial advisor that helps customers in finding investment opportunities with good returns and low-risks. It was recognized as one of the top 20 fintech companies by Forbes and the first startup to have an innovation license by the Dubai International Financial Center.

24. Mike Cunningham

Mike has been spending most of his career in the FinTech sector. He works as an independent mentor at DIFC(Dubai International Financial Center) Fintech Hive. Besides that, he is the CEO of BankClearly a startup which invented a new way of banking.

25. Omar Soudodi

Omar Soudodi is the managing director at PayFort. PayFort is a payment gateway platform which provides a secured and safe payment facility for online shoppers. It has won several awards in the MENA region along with the Best Fintech Company in the year 2016 by The Entrepreneur. 

26. Usama Zafar

Usama Zafar is the Head of Digital & Direct Marketing in ADIB. He has 13+ years of work experience in well-acclaimed domestic and international companies. He is considered as a growth hacker with accomplishments of billion dollars in annual sales of the companies he worked.

27. Nameer Khan

Nameer Khan is not only a fintech influencer but also an insurtech. He is a founding board member of MENA Fintech Association which helps in shaping the future of financial services in the UAE.

28. Ola Doudin

Ola Doudin is the Cofounder and CEO of BitOasis which is digital asset exchange and wallet. It allows individuals to purchase, sell and trade digital assets. Along with the digital wallet and trading services, they also offer consulting services to the organizations.

29. Omar Rana

Omar Rana is the co-founder and director of strategy and finance in Finalytix. Finalytix provides financial advice and wealth management of a company. Omar is also a global fintech speaker who was invited to talk at various conferences.

30. Omeed Mehrinfar 

Plug and Play Tech is a platform that connects Startups and the world’s largest corporations. Omeed Mehrinfar is the regional director of such an innovative platform that helps the startups, investors, etc connect with each other. Plug and Play Tech work on the main objective to catalyze technological advancement.

31. Osama Al Rahma

Osama Al Rahma is the CEO of the Al Fardan Exchange. Al Fardan Exchange is a well-known exchange center in the UAE. Apart from the Al Fardan Exchange center, he is a board member of certain well-acclaimed companies like Foreign Exchange and Remittance group, 2 the point, who is responsible for the development of strategies. 

32. Tim Buckler

Tim Buckler is the Digital Sales Manager in Emirates Islamic Bank. With 9+ years of experience in the field of digital finance, his strategies mainly focus on developing overall e-commerce experiences. He helps in building the digital channel that eventually drives towards the customer and product gain.

33. Preeti Mundhra

Preeti Mundhra the Head of Marketing and Partnerships at the Liv. Digital Bank is one of the best fintech influencers in the UAE through Liv. account which is one of the best initiatives in the fintech space. 

34. Shaheen Alkhudhari

The founder and CEO of the well-known rent and property management platform, Ajar Online is Shaheen Alkhudhari. This platform helps homeowners manage their properties by offering a quick online rent collection facility. This makes the process of receiving or sending rent very easy.

35. Khalid Saad

Khalid Saad is the CEO of Bahrain Fintech Bay. Bahrain Fintech Bay is the first fintech hub in Bahrain and largest fintech hub in the MENA region. He is also the Executive Director of Fintech Consortium which helps in growth and acceleration of Fintech ecosystems.

36. Sonny Zulu

Sonny Zulu is the Managing Director and Head of Retail Banking at Standard Chartered Bank. He is known for delivering outstanding performance at work which helped in the growth of profits, revenue, etc.

37. Eric Modave

Eric Modave is the Chief Operating Office in Arab Bank who is in charge of all the IT operations, Enterprise Digital Innovation, data management, etc. for the bank. Prior to the Arab bank, he worked at top-noted banks in other regions.

38. Denit Varghese

Denit Varghese is the Senior Digital Planner at Carat. With long career experience in the field of digital marketing, his motto of looking at the long term success rather than short term returns makes him the best at the industry.

39. Bogdan Maranu

Bogdan Maranu is the Associate Media Director at Spark Foundry. It is a start-up that melds an innovative business approach with resources and capabilities. 

40. Omar Bin Brek 

Omar Bin Brek is the founder of the UAE Fintech Startup Foloosi. Foloosi facilitates consumer to business payments with advanced technical solutions. This is definitely a good add-on to fintech realm.

Source :
https://www.mymoneysouq.com/financial-blog/top-40-fintech-influencers-to-follow-in-the-middle-east/

Payments Landscape in the UAE: Opportunities and Risks to 2022

Payments Landscape in the UAE: Opportunities and Risks to 2022”, report provides detailed analysis of market trends in the Emirati cards and payments industry. It provides values and volumes for a number of key performance indicators in the industry, including cash, cards, credit transfers, direct debits, and cheques during the review-period (2014-18e).

The report also analyzes various payment card markets operating in the industry and provides detailed information on the number of cards in circulation, transaction values and volumes during the review-period and over the forecast-period (2018e-22f). It also offers information on the country’s competitive landscape, including market shares of issuers and schemes.

Get Sample Copy of This Report at@ www.orbisresearch.com/contacts/request-sample/2701953

The report brings together GlobalData’s research, modeling, and analysis expertise to allow banks and card issuers to identify segment dynamics and competitive advantages. The report also covers detailed regulatory policies and recent changes in regulatory structure.

Key Leading Companies Mentioned:
Emirates NBD
Dubai Islamic Bank
First Abu Dhabi Bank
ADIB
Emirates Islamic
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
RAKBANK
Mashreq Bank
HSBC
Commercial Bank of Dubai
Standard Chartered
Citibank
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
First Gulf Bank
Mastercard
Visa
American Express
Diners Club

This report provides top-level market analysis, information and insights into the Emirati cards and payments industry, including –
– Current and forecast values for each market in the Emirati cards and payments industry, including debit, credit, and charge cards.
– Detailed insights into payment instruments including cash, cards, credit transfers, direct debits, and cheques. It also, includes an overview of the country’s key alternative payment instruments.
– E-commerce market analysis.
– Analysis of various market drivers and regulations governing the Emirati cards and payments industry.
– Detailed analysis of strategies adopted by banks and other institutions to market debit, credit, and charge cards.

Scope

– To strengthen consumer confidence in card-based payments, the Central Bank of the UAE issued a notice prohibiting the double-swiping of payment cards at point of sale (POS) terminals. The move is intended to prevent unauthorized storage of card holders’ information. Once the card is swiped for the first time at the POS its details are briefly stored within the POS terminal’s memory before being transmitted to the payment processor. The second swipe might provide the opportunity for malware installed on the terminal to copy the card data. According to the central bank, almost all merchants in the country have complied with the new regulation.
– To boost the e-commerce market, in October 2017 the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority and wasl Asset Management Group announced the launch of e-commerce free zone Dubai CommerCity, the first free zone dedicated to e-commerce in the Middle East and North Africa. The free zone is designed to provide government, administrative, customs, and logistics services to e-commerce companies. It allows local and international manufacturers to store their goods in warehouses to be shipped to the local market. Free zones offer various incentives to e-commerce traders, such as no taxes on personal income or capital gains, no corporate taxes, no duties on the import or export of goods, provision of 100% foreign ownership, and 100% repatriation of capital and profits. The rise in e-commerce activities will drive electronic payments in the country.
– In April 2018 the government introduced Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021. The strategy aims to use blockchain technology for 50% of government transactions in order to reduce costs and free up resources over the next three years. The adoption of blockchain technology is expected to generate AED11bn ($3bn) in savings associated with transaction and document processing.

Reasons to buy

– Make strategic business decisions, using top-level historic and forecast market data, related to the Emirati cards and payments industry and each market within it.
– Understand the key market trends and growth opportunities in the Emirati cards and payments industry.
– Assess the competitive dynamics in the Emirati cards and payments industry.
– Gain insights into marketing strategies used for various card types in the UAE.
– Gain insights into key regulations governing the Emirati cards and payments industry.

Source : https://newstechmarkets.com/2019/05/03/payments-landscape-in-the-uae-opportunities-and-risks-to-2022/

DIFC signs fintech agreement with Accenture

DUBAI: Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with professional services company Accenture, to develop Financial Technology (fintech).

Under the MoU, Fintech Hive at DIFC will collaborate with Accenture’s Fintech Innovation Labs in New York, London and Hong Kong, to share resources and knowledge on the latest research and trends in financial technology.

In line with DIFC’s Growth Strategy 2024 and Dubai Vision 2021, Fintech Hive at DIFC aims to fill a void in the market by giving financial companies access to state-of-the art technologies to support their digital transformation.

“What sets us apart is our ability to harness the assets to grow fintech locally that will ultimately create more jobs, attract investments and support the economy as a whole,” said Arif Amiri, chief executive officer of DIFC Authority.

The Fintech Innovation Labs are annual 12-week accelerator programmes that bring together early-stage financial technology companies and the world’s leading financial institutions. Globally, the Labs’ alumni companies have raised more than US$1.07 billion in venture financing after participating in the programmes.

“In today’s hyper-connected world, this type of alliance is critical for maximising talent development and innovation. With surging demand for fintech solutions and Dubai’s increasing presence on the global financial scene, we are confident that this international collaboration will generate incredible opportunities for the region,” said Sushil Saluja, a senior managing director in Accenture’s Financial Services practice.

DIFC has recently announced that the 2018 programme, which is opening for applications in May, will be expanded to include insurance, Islamic finance, and regulatory technology services. First Abu Dhabi Bank, Arab Bank and Noor Bank will join the programme this year, with returning financial institutions to include Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Citigroup, Emirates Islamic, Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, Standard Chartered, UAE Exchange, and Visa.

Source : https://gulfnews.com/business/markets/difc-signs-fintech-agreement-with-accenture-1.2216804