The pilot results of the integration project will be announced within six months. Picture for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi : Once bank accounts are integrated with Emirates ID cards, you won’t need to visit a bank to open an account, wait to receive your ATM card by courier and then have to activate the account and card. You will be able to complete these procedures online, a senior banking executive told Gulf News on Monday.

“Imagine that a customer contacts a bank online, [he or she is] verified through the Emirates ID card and authorised to use his or her card as a bank card within no time,” John Chang, Head of Personal Banking at Noor Bank, said.

In fact, customers will no longer need a bank card if they so choose to use the optional service.

“For new customers, the online account opening and debit card delivery would practically become real-time where customers can open an account online and get his or her account activated with an active debit card on his or her national ID card,” he said.

He was commenting on a UAE Government initiative to integrate bank cards with the Emirates ID card as reported by Gulf News on December 31.

The pilot results of the project will be announced within six months and depending on its viability, the plan will be implemented. The ID card will be used for authentication processes to verify the identity of the cardholder. The ATMs [machines] or credit card terminals will process the financial transactions. Nevertheless it will be optional for UAE residents to integrate their bank cards with Emirates ID cards, Dr Ali Al Khoury, Director-General of the Emirates Identity Authority (Emirates ID), said.

The Noor Bank executive said the integration would make banking convenient to customers.

“From the customer and bank’s perspective it is practical to integrate the debit card with Emirates ID,” Chang said. “All customer-centric banks will adopt this initiative and modify their operations to make it work.” .

The project will make customers’ wallets lighter as one card will fulfil all needs. Citing a similar product, Chang said, Coin, a card storing multiple cards launched in November 2013, is gaining popularity in the region.

Coin is a Bluetooth low-energy connect card device that can store a number of swipeable cards, such as credit cards, gift cards and membership cards. It is a non-rechargeable device with a battery life of two years and can be used anywhere that regular credit cards are accepted.

Chang admitted that there could be certain issues in terms of integrating the Emirates ID card with payment card industry standards, but is confident any issues can be addressed.

The integration of central bank policies, Emirates ID policies and payment card industry standards would be essential to mitigate and control the risks including, identity theft, anti-money laundering, cybercrimes, transaction disputes and illegal fund transfers.

Chang pointed out that bank cards contain only the identification details of customers. Financial data like account balance and transaction details are kept in a bank’s system, he said.