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UAE Central Bank Launches Instant Payment Platform Aani

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) has introduced Aani, an instant payments platform. 

Developed by Al Etihad Payments (AEP), a subsidiary of CBUAE, Aani is a key initiative under the CBUAE’s Financial Infrastructure Transformation (FIT) program, according to a Sunday (Oct. 16) press release. This platform is designed to provide seamless, secure and instant digital payment solutions, aligning with the UAE’s vision of becoming a global digital payment hub.

Aani offers licensed financial institutions (LFIs) and payment service providers the opportunity to provide their customers with an exceptional user experience. The platform caters to consumers, businesses, corporates and government entities, allowing them to process transactions instantly and securely, 24/7.

Aani will roll out a range of convenient features, including instant money transfers using only the recipient’s phone number. It also streamlines payment experiences through functions like “Request Money” and “Split Bills,” while supporting QR codes for cashless payments at merchants. In the future, the AEP plans to introduce real-time direct debit and e-checks. 

The launch of Aani involves the participation of eight licensed financial institutions, including Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Al Fardan Exchange, Emirates NBD, Finance House, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Habib Bank AG Zurich, Mashreq Bank and National Bank of Fujairah. AEP aims to onboard the remaining LFIs by the end of 2024.

Aani can be accessed through the existing channels of the participating LFIs or through AEP’s Aani mobile app. AEP has also collaborated with Magnati, Mashreq/Neo Pay, and Network International to enable Aani QR-based payments with merchants. This collaboration aims to onboard tens of thousands of merchants in the coming months through licensed merchant acquirers and other partners.

Saif Humaid Al Dhaheri, chairman of AEP, highlighted that the launch of Aani reflects their commitment to digitizing the economy and advancing the financial sector. Al Dhaheri said that Aani is not just a payment platform; it serves as a catalyst for economic growth, innovation, and financial inclusion. He further expressed their dedication to fostering an ecosystem that encourages innovation, competition, and growth, benefiting the entire financial system.

The launch of Aani comes after a March unveiling of UAE’s direct debit marketplace, which allows consumers and merchants to make recurring payments digitally. 

The direct debit marketplace provides a place where consumers can make all their payments and is compliant with the Dubai Electronic Security Center (DESC), PYMNTS reported at the time. It is free to use and is expected to be tapped for a variety of recurring expenses and subscription-based services.