Wednesday 9, September 2015

Dubai – MENA Herald: Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, a research and educational institution specialized in public policy in the Arab world, explored the future of mobile payment operations through smartphone applications, and their impact on Dubai’s transition into a global smart city at the seventh Dubai Smart Cities Forum.

His Excellency Sami Al Qemzi, Director General of the Department of Economic Development in Dubai (DED), as well as Dr Aisha Bin Bashir, Deputy Director General of the Smart Dubai Executive Committee, and Milan Gauder, Head of Global Solutions and Products for the Middle East and Africa region, MasterCard International Inc. headlined the discussions.

Sami Al Qemzi, Director General, DED, said: “The Dubai Economic Development Department plays a major role in achieving the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into a global smart city model by 2017 through the adoption of state-of-the-art technologies that transform the quality of life for its residents and visitors.”

Drawing comparisons between the conventional economy and the smart economic system, Al Qemzi added: “The former is based on available resources, while the latter is based on knowledge and innovation that are considered sustainable resources. DED is mandated to put in place policies to encourage innovation towards building a smart economy that combines creative skills with modern infrastructure.  DED is also keen to enhance the efficiency of governmental services by introducing state of the art technology that caters to the quality of life the emirate aims to provide. We are confident such an approach will reduce the costs of business practices and reinforce Dubai’s leadership in the economic and competitiveness index.”

Furthermore, Al Qemzi noted: “With the advanced pace of technology, a significant focus should be given to market structure development instead of product development alone. It is fundamental to create programs that leverage performance across all sectors and promote corporate culture especially among business leaders and SMEs. This is crucial if we are to benefit from the abundant opportunities the e-trade platform offers in terms of reducing costs and speeding production process. It is equally important that we integrate smart technologies such as NFC to facilitate greater security for online transactions and remittances.”

Dr Aisha Bin Bashr, Deputy Director General of the Smart Dubai Executive Committee, said: “As one of the fastest growing economies enables, Dubai has emerged as the hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. We at Smart Dubai initiative are working closely with various stakeholders in the government and private sectors, as well as educational institutions and industries to build a progressive business platform and adopt innovative technologies in Dubai and the UAE.”

She added: “The main pillars and dimensions of Dubai Smart city initiative include efficiency, smoothness, safety, impact, economy, environment ecosystem, mobility and governance.”

Dr Aisha added: “We are committed to making the Smart Cities Forum a great opportunity to understand the concepts and the pillars of smart cities by hosting local and international experts to discuss some of the technical concepts in this area.  In this session, we tackled the importance of efficiency and smooth performance and the economic dimension of the smart city concept, in addition to the opportunities and challenges of the integration of technology in sectors such as urban planning, transport, utility services and infrastructure in order to contribute to the conceptualizing of a smart city and its underlying concepts. This topic is fundamental as it will enable us to empower entrepreneurship and reinforce Dubai and the UAE’s competitiveness, contributing to economic growth and driving the emirates to become the global hub for innovation and business leadership.”  

Milan Gauder, Head of Global Products & Solutions for MEA, MasterCard, discussed how mobile devices have changed trade and payment processes – opening new horizons and bringing change to various aspects of life.

He said: “A recent MasterCard survey ranks the UAE in the 7th place on the Mobile Payments Readiness Index, ahead of many developed countries. This is attributed to the wide penetration of mobile phones reaching 200%, in addition to the availability of various mobile applications and electronic payment applications.”

Discussing the obstacles that affect payment via mobile devices, Gauder considered that fragmentation and the variety of technical platforms and operating systems urge the industry to develop different payment methods. “The involvement of many companies, stakeholders, manufacturers, suppliers in the mobile devices industry makes the process of reaching a consensus on the best ways and methods of payment harder and more complicated than ever,” he said.

Professor Raed Awamleh, Dean of Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, said: “The UAE is experiencing exponential growth across all public sectors. Dubai, in particular, has successfully emerged as one of the leading cities in the world providing the best innovative smart services. There is a valuable opportunity for us to distinguish Dubai as a global reference in innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship”.

“Electronic payment channels have become increasingly important allowing citizens, residents and visitors smooth access to the government services via smartphones. Such platforms also enable businessmen and traders to gain round-the-clock access to government organizations.”

Al Awamleh noted that plans to switch to smart mobile payment must be accompanied by an investment plan in information security infrastructure. Aiming to ensure security for the services and customers, proactive steps must be taken to provide end-users with a safe platform that encourages them to move away from traditional methods.

Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government is committed to promoting good governance through enhancing the region’s capacity for effective public policy. The school uses a four-pronged approach, which includes applied research in public policy and management, academic programs in public policy and administration, executive education programs and knowledge forums for scholars and policy makers.