Could cash become a thing of a past?

Experts predict smartphone apps will remove the need for coins and notes

New apps mean coins and notes could soon be a thing of the past. Kelly Crane takes a look at different ways to pay.

Having pieces of paper and shiny coins lining the inside of wallets and purses could be a thing of past if analysts of the future are to be believed.

Supermarkets, birthday-pressie shopping, lunch, paying bills, topping up Salik, filling up the car with petrol and even parking all currently offer cashless alternatives in Dubai.

But possibly the most revolutionary so far is Beam Wallet – a mobile platform allowing customers to pay from their 3G smartphone.

Already accepted at Circle K convenience stores, Aldo, Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger, Aeropostale, Kenneth Cole and ColdStone Creamery, Jacky’s Electronics at Mirdif City Centre and Dubai Mall and Swiss Arabian Perfumes at Mall of Emirates, Ibn Battuta Mall and Mirdif City Centre, the application makes fumbling for change a thing of the past.

Secure payment technology allows users – or Beamers – to pay, record and manage finances on a smartphone. Once a user downloads the Beam app from Blackberry World, The Mac App Store or Google play, it’s full steam ahead.

Credit card giant Visa recently said that the UAE market had more than seven million credit cards in operation in 2012 with a total spending amounting to more than Dh150 billion. But the clever guys at Beam claim that the phone will soon take over, especially as it’s usually a permanent attachment.

However, they weren’t the first. Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) shook things up a while back.

The mPay mobile app from the Dubai Government wiped out ticketed-waits in Deira-side offices. Covering Salik recharge, payment of traffic fines from Dubai Police, electricity bills from Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Etisalat bills and donations to Dubai Cares, they’ve thought of almost everything. Users of the iPhone can download it from The Mac App Store, while Android can get hold of the application from Google play.

Today, even the basics are covered. Park for an hour in Dubai and you need two dirhams – but everyone in Dubai knows coins are hot commodity, and your chances of having the right amount on your person can be slim. With the mPark mobile system courtesy of Dubai’s Road Transport Authority (RTA), park up, SMS the time you’ll be staying and an area code, and worry no more (see for more information).

It was also recently announced for the first time in more than five years, motorists can use their credit cards to fill up at the pumps in Dubai and the northern emirates with Enoc, Emarat and Eppco all accepting card payment for a minimal surcharge of just Dhs2.

Add all this to the news that RTA taxis will soon be accepted Nol card payments, meaning those jumping in cabs won’t even hand over cash and we could be looking at wallets becoming a thing of the past – and not just the paper lining them.

Other systems across Dubai

Wild Wadi
Essential cashless technology if you want to rest assured your money is safe for the day. Wristbands hold as much or little as you think you might spend during your time at the park.

The telecoms provider’s new cashless payment service from a mobile allows users to put away their plastic debit and credit cards and tap away on their mobile phones to pay for smaller transactions. With a new secure Sim card installed under the new programme, new NFC-enabled smartphones are the new wallet of tomorrow, according to George Held, Etisalat Group Products and Services Director. Brands including Costa Coffee, Burger King and Seattle’s Best Coffee have already signed up for the cashless system.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
The bank offers a mobile payment service providing customers a cashless, cardless, paperless and phone-less payment solution. The Mobi payment system has been developed by US company Mobibucks and is a first-of-its kind payment product for making purchases using a mobile phone number.

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