Dubai integrates blockchain technology into online payment

Dubai has integrated blockchain technology into its online payment portal named DubaiPay to allow reconciliation and settlement transactions to be performed in real time local media reported.

DubaiPay is a service provided by the Dubai government that lets customers inquire amounts they owe to government entities, by using text messages, and to make payments to clear those dues, especially in case of urgent transactions.

Mira Sultan Obaid Abdul Rahman, director of smart services-enablement department at Smart Dubai Government, told Gulf News the strategy was to increase government efficiency by transferring all transactions to the blockchain network.

Developed in collaboration with Dubai’s Department of Finance (DoF), the Smart Dubai Office (SDO) launched the system with a press release labelling it a “blockchain-powered upgrade to its financial system’(Dubaipay)”.

Current DoF procedures are dependent on staff members physically checking payments collected from different portals to manually reconcile the transactions before settling them. This extensive process includes a fee deduction before the remaining sum is transferred to the relevant overseeing authority, altogether taking up to 45 days.

“Dubai aims to become the world’s first blockchain-powered government by 2020,” she added.

The DubaiPay portal has over 40 entities, including 27 government and 14 non-government agencies, connected to the platform. The portal also collected $35m (Dh13 billion) from 9.4 million transactions, a 17% increase in 2017.

“Blockchain is not going to replace the current technology but it is going to compliment it and can be introduced in many industries such as identity, property, healthcare, energy, trading, loyalty programmes, to name a few,” she said.

The ‘Payment Reconciliation and Settlement System’ has already been tested by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). The two government agencies – first to join the blockchain platform – have processed in excess of 5 million transactions over a decentralized led.

“Blockchain is one of the most promising of these [new smart] technologies, attracting more investments every year,” Smart Dubai’s director-general Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr said.

Smart Dubai Government Establishment (SDG) chief executive Wesam Lootah added of the “game-changing technology”.

A number of government agencies including Dubai Police, the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Airpots, Dubai Customs, Dubai Municipality and other local government bodies will join the blockchain platform in the near future, the announcement added.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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