Pandemic Drives Uptake of Innovative Payments Technology


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Leading financial service companies revealed the many new ways in which governments, businesses, and individuals are employing new financial payments technologies to overcome obstacles posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. This came during a webinar titled “Payments Technology and the Pandemic,” which was the latest in the Business Council’s ongoing videoconference series titled “Looking Ahead: Conversations with U.S. and U.A.E. Business and Government Leaders.

After a brief welcome, U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council President Danny Sebright opened the floor to the webinar’s distinguished panelists: Saud Swar, VP Head of UAE and Commercial Cards MENA, American Express; Karl Kilb, CEO, Boloro; Emrah Tuzun, Head of Merchant Services and Market Development MENA, PayPal; Pankaj Asthaana, VP Digital Payments & Labs MENA, Mastercard; Yasar Yilmaz, Head of Financial Services, Middle East and Africa, Microsoft; and Shahebaz Khan, General Manager UAE, Visa.

In their opening remarks, panelists set the scene by introducing the challenges posed by the coronavirus in regard to conducting traditional financial transactions, whether withdrawing money from ATMs, paying with point of sales machines, or exchanging cash. They then reviewed how the coronavirus has spurred more widescale adoption of digital payments technologies such as contactless payments and QR codes. They also highlighted some exciting innovations that have assumed prominence in this sector as a result of the pandemic.

Panelists then engaged in a question and answer session in which they elaborated on how the pandemic is accelerating innovation and collaboration in the payment and fintech space and how it is driving society towards becoming cashless. The panelists also reviewed how to safely conduct digital transactions in light of the current uptick in the incidence of online fraud, and touched on the role that blockchain will play in the future to help better secure payment transactions.

The panel comes ahead of the release of a new report, titled “The U.A.E.’s Fintech Sector,” that the Council will officially release tomorrow.

The video call was attended by nearly 250 senior executives from leading American and Emirati companies as well as by U.S. and U.A.E. government officials.

This event marks the resumption of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s webinar series titled, “Looking Ahead: Conversations with U.S. and U.A.E. Business and Government Leaders” following a short hiatus for the Eid holiday. Past events in this series included webinars with U.A.E. Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, U.S. Ambassador John Rakolta Jr., H.E. Waleed Al Muhairi from Mubadala Investment Company, Sir Tim Clark and Mr. Tony Douglas from Emirates and Etihad, healthcare technology leaders, leading law firm Morgan Lewis, prominent American tech companies, the U.A.E. Minister of State for Food Security, and Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker.

For more information about this series and an exciting slate of upcoming events, please contact the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s head of communications Mary Zuccarello at