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The UAE has embraced digital wallets. Which one is right for you?

Mobile wallets available in the UAE come with many different benefits, but what are they and how do you decide which one to use?

Innovation is part of the UAE’s culture and residents are quick to embrace new conveniences. So it’s no wonder that digital wallets are fast gaining popularity. A recent focus on security and health has lifted their uptake, with an increasing number of customers opting for cashless, contactless transactions.

From faster and safer transactions to loyalty benefits and a single-window view of your financial transactions, there are a number of advantages to using mobile wallets in the UAE.

But what is a mobile wallet?

Most people who own a late-generation smartphone will have instant access to a mobile payment app from the equipment manufacturer. Wallets such as Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are now widely available in the UAE. These apps allow residents to save credit or debit card details and make payments simply by holding their phones next to a point-of-sale device in shops, restaurants and other establishments, or by tapping the right icon on a website.

Simply put, a mobile wallet stores payment card information on a mobile device.

Top 3 mobile wallets in the UAE

There are several different mobile wallets in the UAE, each with their own pros and cons. The most commonly used are enumerated below.

  • Apple Pay: Designed for everyday use with Apple-branded devices, the wallet is compatible with the iPhone 6, iPad 2014, Apple Watch series 3, the 2018 MacBook and newer platforms. It works with all contactless payment devices, in iOS apps, and on the web using Safari and is compatible with cards from over 15 banks in the UAE.
  • Google Pay: Aimed at those using mobile devices powered by the open-source Android operating system, but it also works on devices powered by iOS. Compatible systems include Android Lollipop 5.0, iOS 11, 2018 Wear OS devices and later versions. However, as of April 2021, the wallet only works with seven banks in the UAE.
  • Samsung Pay: Arriving in the UAE two years after its inception, the mobile wallet is largely compatible with Samsung-branded devices in the UAE. It is only available to customers of 12 banks as of April 2021, and not all cards from each bank work with the app.
  • Other wallets: Telecommunications providers and banking groups have also launched mobile wallets in the UAE, such as Etisalat’s e-Wallet and the UAE’s digital cash Klip. Features vary from wallet to wallet, including topping up balances or making financial transactions.

As with other products, not all digital wallets available in the UAE are suitable for everyone. While your phone’s operating system can help you decide which wallet to choose, it helps to consider other factors, such as your current banking relationship, the type of transactions you make most frequently, and most importantly, whether the wallet is endorsed by the UAE’s financial regulators.

All things considered, however, one thing’s for certain. Smartphones have arguably become the most important item in our lives, mobile wallets are here to stay. Which one have you picked?