Paolo Gagliardi, CEO of Trriple, the Dubai-based financial technology company Image Credit: Supplied

What is the uptake of mobile payments and digital wallets in the UAE?

Currently, we have seen reports that show 70-75 per cent of transactions made in the UAE are cash-based. The goal for UAE to become a cashless society by 2021 is aggressive; however, the country is well-known for executing the unimaginable.

Additionally, the Global Media Insight in 2015 reported that a staggering 7.27 million people were active mobile internet users in the UAE, out of a total of 9.58 million. However, the percentage of the population who use mobile banking services stood at only 31 per cent.  These statistics show us that there is room for mobile payments and digital wallet applications like ours to help UAE fulfill its vision.

Despite the focus on cash, what is driving the trend towards mobile wallets in the UAE?

Global insights company, Nielsen, has reported that for every 100 UAE residents about 78 of them own a smart phone. The adoption of digital technology is even wider in the UAE, with its tech-savvy young and affluent population. Furthermore, one must acknowledge that the embracing of new technologies is known to be higher in some countries.

With UAE prioritising cashless payments within the UAE Vision 2021, we have witnessed a further boom in the already growing fintech industry. At Trriple, we are contributing to the country’s goal of reaching a ‘Cashless Society’.

Furthermore, Dubai, the world’s 18th largest financial center and home to the largest fintech sector within the MENA region, has seen a rise in interest from fintech startups and banking assets because of its location, private investment regulations, and innovation.

Over the past decade, fintech startups in the region have raised over $100 million in funding, and investment is predicted to double by 2020, according to the State of Fintech report.

The report also shows that the disclosed investment in fintech had jumped 100% to over $35 million by October 2017 — Paytabs ($20million), Souqalmal ($10 million) and Beehive ($5 million) — compared to $18 million last year.

The number of fintech startups also increased from 46 in 2013 to 105 in 2015, and it is estimated that it will more than double again to 250 by 2020, according to the report.

Additionally, in November of last year, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) launched a $100 million fintech-focused fund and signed an agreement with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to undertake joint fintech projects.

2017 also witnessed the cooperation agreement between ‘Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission’ and ‘Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)’ in order to establish a framework for the two regulators where they could help each other develop the fintech industry.

This being said, one could conclude that Dubai is positioning itself as a fintech hub, which is why it continues to be a dominant market in the MENA region.

What makes Trriple different from other wallets in the market in terms of financial inclusion?

Our company was built on the foundation of financial inclusion. At Trriple, we see a future wherein anyone can access money anywhere. Money is powerful when it is in the hands of those who need it, when they need it.  Trriple makes this a possibility by introducing the best possible technologies, and focusing on People, Planet and Prosperity.

Our mWallet is unique in the sense that we reach out the to the vast segment of the population that still rely on cash as a primary means of transaction, and providing them a secure and convenient, mobile-based solution. This includes the likes of blue-collar workers, and digital-savvy youth and the homebound without an outside income.

The UAE is the third largest remitter in world. How does Trriple help in remittances?

One of the key statistics that drove the idea for launching this app was the fact that the UAE is the third-largest remitter in the world.

There are hundreds of thousands of workers in the UAE who send various amounts of money back home every month. What we realized is that these workers, who are unbanked or under-banked, spend a significant amount of their free time just to transfer funds to their loved ones back home, and we wanted to find a solution.

Along with international remittance as an option, we decided to work on a holistic application to answer every single need of the unbanked or under-banked consumer.

At this point, our application has a number of features and the one that we are eagerly waiting to finalize is international remittance. We have the partnership, the framework, and the application look and feel in place. However, we are just awaiting the final approvals from the authorities before we kick off with this much-awaited feature.

Once it’s launched, sending money home will just be a click away at any time, from anywhere at very attractive rates.

What new features can we expect to see from Trriple in the future?

In the very near future, the company is looking to add additional partners for various different services to be included in its innovative mWallet, including bill payments for utilities and government services such as RTA, Dubai Police, Telecom Operators, Utilities, and many more. Additionally Trriple is finalizing an option to link credit or debit cards to the application, the need for this has been sourced from continuous user feedback, and meeting their growing needs; and finally, the company is also set to launch a unique loyalty and rewards program which will give maximum redeemable points to users.

In the long-term, Trriple has ambitious plans to be a holistic mobile wallet answering every single need of consumers and is committed to providing services that differentiate them from similar providers. One such service to keep an eye out for is merchant payment. We are growing our merchants network every day, and we expect this one to be the most attractive service for our customers.

Can you explain how Trriple works and how people can use it?

Currently, Trriple users can enjoy the mWallet and its value-added services by topping it up with cash at approximately 3,000 top-up points, with no cost to the user. These cash-in machines are located strategically all across the UAE and locations can be found on the company’s website or within the mobile wallet application.

After uploading their wallet with cash, users can make seamless payments at a wide range of merchants in the UAE, through the help of various merchant-service providers, who acquire and register new merchants for Trriple every day. The current merchant network covers a wide range of outlets and service providers, ranging from supermarkets, departmental stores, salons, restaurants, cafes and more.

Lastly, the cash that is uploaded can also be used for local peer-to-peer transfers and airtime top-up almost anywhere in the world including UAE’s leading operators Du and Etisalat.