Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 May 2019

Apple Pay launch greeted with enthusiasm by UAE residents

People happy it will make life more convenient but there is concern that lack of store staff training could cause problems

Apple smartphone users in the UAE were delighted with the launch of the company's new pay system on Tuesday. Antonie Robertson / The National
Apple smartphone users in the UAE were delighted with the launch of the company's new pay system on Tuesday. Antonie Robertson / The National

Tech fans across the UAE were overjoyed at the announcement of Apple Pay launching in the country on Tuesday.

As the UAE blazes a trail towards being a smart society, they spoke of their excitement in adopting a more technologically savvy lifestyle.

“I was so excited about the rumours that I couldn’t sleep last night,” said Fares Bdeir, a 35-year-old British-Jordanian banker. “I tried adding my card then but it didn’t work. Emirates NBD announced a couple of months ago that they’d be rolling it out before the end of the year, I just didn’t expect it to come out this soon but I managed to add it first thing in the morning.”

He said the convenience of the platform was unparalleled. “If you’re on the beach and you don’t have your wallet, you can use your waterproof watch or if you want to run somewhere, it makes it very convenient and adding several cards is really great,” Mr Bdeir said.

Read more: What is Apple Pay? Everything you need to know

“I added eight cards so far and it’s just about having less on you and a smaller wallet – we already have to carry many items on us, like our Emirates ID, so I will only carry one card now as a back-up.”

Any compromise on his card would not require him to change his details, he added.

“I feel more secure with this than carrying my own cards. It makes the transaction so much faster too. Instead of giving your card to the teller and entering your PIN, you just tap it and you’re done.

"I’m a huge fan of Apple – I buy all of their products – they give you the best experience in the market and they’ve been very smart by tying you into their eco-system because all their products work so well together.”

Jimmy Grewal, a 40-year-old Indian who works in technology, has been using Apple Pay since 2014 with his US credit card.

“It worked here although it wasn’t officially supported,” he said. “I’m glad it’s finally here so that there will be a wider merchant adoption. It’s about security and convenience. I’m happy with how well it works and the process of registering [with local banks] was pretty seamless.”

Although he said he looked forward to not worrying about his wallet or theft, getting merchants to allow payments would be hard.

“The biggest challenge will be lack of staff training,” said Mr Grewal. “They might not know how to handle it and not want to learn.”

Mr Bdeir agreed. “Some retail stores still don’t have the latest machines that can accept it,” he said. “I’ve been big on mobile payments and testing apps like Beam, which I wonder what will happen to them as this will be a big blow to them.”

For Samar Azzam, a 32-year-old from Palestine, the convenience trumped it all. “I’m always in a rush so being able to save time on small things like paying at stores will be great,” she said.

“Just being able to use the watch on my wrist will make it easier as I won’t have to open my handbag and start looking for my card. I’m all for a more convenient lifestyle.”

Updated: October 24, 2017 04:25 PM