Commercial Bank of Dubai serves ‘low-income’ customers with Now Money
Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) has partnered with Now Money to provide low-income consumers with accounts and cards.
CBD is the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) seventh largest bank with $23.97 billion in assets, according to Statista. Despite such a large nest of assets, the bank has just 15 branches and 120 ATMs.
Known in the region as “Rateb customers” (roughly translated as salary from Arabic) these low-income users are “largely unbanked” in the UAE.That’s according to Bernd van Linder, the bank’s chief executive. He says this is the first time CBD is offering a digital, low-cost banking service to this audience.
UAE’s mobile penetration rate
“Given the high smartphone penetration in the region, we believe Now Money – a digital, app-based solution, will be extremely popular with customers,” van Linder adds.
Mobile phone services make up around 77% of the UAE’s main telco operators’ revenues. These are Etisalat Group and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company – also known by the brand name “du”.
The number of mobile phone subscribers in the UAE sits at around 18.3 million. That’s more than two lines per person, or 200% mobile penetration.
Such a high penetration rate has prompted speculation that the UAE could become home to one of the first 5G mass markets.
The UAE’s telecommunications regulator has gone as far as to set the ambitious target of 100% 5G coverage across the country by 2025.
Another one of the UAE’s targets is a “cohesive society”, part of the country’s shorter-term 2021 Vision goals.
Now Money’s co-founder, Ian Dillon, says the fintech’s offering, set to launch via CBD’s platform, is in line with this goal.
“[We’re offering a] much more advanced and cost-effective alternative than anything else in the market for low-income customers,” says Dillon.
Amit Malhotra, CBD’s personal banking general manager, explains that the account doesn’t have any minimum balance requirement.
It also offers instant remittance services specifically to help the UAE’s expat community.
Rival fintechs in the UAE are also tapping the country’s expat community. At the end of July, cross-border payments fintech Denarii Cash expanded its remittance corridors into 11 new countries spanning the Middle East, and into Southeast Asia and Africa.
Denarii Cash claimed back in July that its wait-listed users totaled to 1.1 million. Surging significantly from the 57,000 active users it had prior to the coronavirus.
Expats’ remittances in the UAE amounted to AED 165 billion ($44 billion) in 2019, according to the country’s central bank.