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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

UAE resident devises ‘revolutionary’ easy payment smartphone app

The app can also work as an alternative to card payments as users can top up their account with credit.
The app developed by Moussa Beidas, 30, allows smartphone users to pay for products via bluetooth. Lee Hoagland / The National
The app developed by Moussa Beidas, 30, allows smartphone users to pay for products via bluetooth. Lee Hoagland / The National

DUBAI // A smartphone payment platform designed by a UAE resident is the only Arab creation to make the cut at The Next Web conference in Amsterdam.

Palestinian Moussa Beidas, 30, who was born and raised in the UAE, said he came up with the idea after working for leading banks in the region.

“As consultants, we were approached by various banks that wanted us to solve a really big challenge, and usually it was how to reduce overheads or be more digital. How do we make it so that people don’t need to go to branches?” he said.

“After several briefs of the same nature, the solution was pretty much the same. No one bank can solve this issue. No matter how good the product is, it’s always going to be biased, pushing the bank’s agenda for their own customers.”

Mr Beidas then came up with Bridg, a secure payment app that can be used offline. He aims to target the app at developing countries, where people sometimes do not have internet access on their smartphones or even have bank accounts and cards.

The app can also work as an alternative to card payments as users can top up their account with credit.

“Initially, it was a savings app and it developed into something more utilitarian, because we realised there are many people around the world who are unbanked or not always connected,” he said.

“No-one was addressing this. Other payment methods may work great for North America or Europe but not for developing countries and the masses with no cards, data plans or card machines.”

Mr Beidas said that, according to recent statistics, by 2018, people in India will have more smartphones than bank cards.

“In 2013, 50 per cent of smartphones in India didn’t have a data plan at all – that’s almost 200 million devices,” he said. “There are many gateways that don’t require bank cards but, instead, offer top-up plans.”

He said he could not discuss the detail of the platform’s patented technology before the Amsterdam conference next month but that some of the businesses that could benefit from Bridg included petrol stations and home delivery services.

He has signed up a host of businesses across the UAE, and is selecting a few early adopters for its test phase.

Sal Kahil, owner of the Boutique Kitchen, said his delivery drivers would begin using Bridg when it was launched.

“We have nine drivers now, and we are expanding and hiring more, and for every driver there is a mobile credit card machine, each of which costs about Dh800 per year to rent,” he said.

Mr Beidas said many people in the UAE have to get out of their cars to pay by card at filling stations but Bridg provides a more secure alternative.

“I have seen instances in which people have screamed out their pin numbers to gas station attendants so that they don’t get out of the car.”

The app should be available to the UAE public by May.

dmoukhallati@thenational.ae