UAE’s apex bank launches Aani

The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) has introduced a new instant payments platform called “Aani,” in collaboration with its subsidiary Al Etihad Payments. Aani is set to revolutionise digital payments in the UAE, a country with one of the Middle East’s largest banking sectors.

Aani is accessible through a mobile app and will be made available by partner financial institutions associated with CBUAE. These institutions can now offer consumers a seamless, secure payment processing experience at any time. However, Aani offers more than just instant payments; it also includes features that enable consumers to split bills and transfer funds using phone numbers. Additionally, businesses can use Aani to accept payments via QR codes.

Further enhancements are expected to be introduced to Aani as it is rolled out across the UAE, with plans for real-time direct debit and e-cheque processing. CBUAE’s immediate objective is to onboard tens of thousands of merchants to use Aani in the coming months.

At the launch of Aani, eight licensed financial institutions are already integrated, including Al Fardan Exchange, Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank, National Bank of Fujairah, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Finance House, Mashreq Bank, and Habib Bank AG Zurich. CBUAE subsidiary Al Etihad Payments aims to bring the remaining licensed financial institutions in the UAE onboard with Aani by no later than the end of 2024.

The launch of Aani follows Al Etihad Payments’ partnership agreement with India’s NPCI International to develop the UAE’s inaugural domestic card scheme, which, along with the launch of Aani, is part of CBUAE’s Financial Infrastructure Transformation (FIT) program. The FIT program was initiated in February 2023 with the objective of expediting digital transformation in the UAE’s financial sector.

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