We are banking on cashless dealings

Bahrain’s drive towards a cashless economy has been stepped up with the government deciding to process payments for services through digital channels only.

Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA) chief executive Mohammed Ali Al Qaed yesterday said the receipt of physical money has already stopped for 34 government services.

He said this follows the Cabinet decision requiring all government entities to diversify digital payment options beyond bank-issued cards and eventually transition towards accepting digital payments only.

The decision is in line with the increasing international adoption of ePayments and the faster rate of digital transformation triggered by the pandemic, he said.

It is also a part of plans to have a ‘smart government’ powered by digital transformation using the most advanced IT solutions to help raise the quality of services and reduce waiting times.

Working with relevant government agencies, the services have been modified so that only digital payment channels linked to the National Payment Aggregator (NPA) will be accepted.

The policy will be broadened to cover other services until eventually all government services will make the transition.

This decision will help improve government services for beneficiaries, ensuring quick and easy transactions, while maintaining their privacy, health, and safety, as well as those of government employees.

The decision is being implemented in three stages, including suspension of physical cash payments, issuance of eBills, and finally complete digital transformation.

Praising the vision of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Prime Minister, to offer the highest possible standards of services to the public to ensure a better quality of life, Mr Al Qaed said, more effective and efficient public services is high among the government’s priorities, including identifying ways of enhancing productivity.

Mr Al Qaed

Major achievements in this area include improvements to the judicial sector, the National Bureau for Revenue (NBR), and the Sijilat and Tasareeh services.

The government official said the decision also strengthens the public sector’s role as a regulator of activities provided by the private sector, with the authorities aiming to establish more private partnerships to speed up economic growth.

The success of the transition is already evident in the latest infographics released by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) for the month of November. Point of sale (POS) transactions using debit and credit cards at 8,296,366 last month were up 22.4pc from 6,780,750 in the same month last year.

In terms of value, POS transactions were up nearly 2pc to BD221.5m from BD217.4m.

Government services was the top usage sector accounting for BD55.9m in value, with around 98pc of transactions carried out using Bahraini credit and debit cards.

The number of transactions using payment gateways rose by 80.34pc to 1,317,245 in November 2020 from 730,405 in Nov 2019, whereas the number of ATM cash withdrawals have come down by 11.27pc from 1.68m in November 2019 to 1.49m in November 2020.

The number of Fawateer transactions, a real-time bill payments service provided by Benefit, has seen a 245.09pc (more than three-fold) jump from 165,399 in November 2019 to 570,778 last month.

In terms of value, the growth was 115.26pc from BD20.60m to BD44.35m.


Source: http://www.gdnonline.com/Details/910976/We-are-banking-on-cashless-dealings




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