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Governments across the world are undertaking “smart city” initiatives. At the heart of smart cities is ubiquitous digital technology that aims to improve the quality of living standards, promote commerce, and drive economic growth, ultimately attracting more business investment, residents, and visitors. According to a Visa Smart City study, a city could expect an annual GDP growth rate increase of 19.4 basis points over 15 years if it were to embrace digital payments more fully to improve the lives of its residents.

The flexibility to pay digitally improves ease and convenience for citizens and yields significant aggregate time and cost savings which can be redeployed for productive economic activity. Digitalising citizen to government payments can also reduce administrative overheads, while increasing government revenues through timely collections. Other benefits include improved government financial planning as well as increased transparency, accountability and traceability of funds collected.

To realize these benefits, the Abu Dhabi Government, as part of its ambitious economic vision 2030, aims to transform Abu Dhabi into one of the best smart cities in the world. Critical to Abu Dhabi’s vision is its plan to digitalise citizen to government payment flows and promote the use of electronic payments amongst the city’s 15 million citizens.

In 2020 to improve the delivery of public services, the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) in collaboration with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) launched the ‘Abu Dhabi Government Digital Payment Platform’ (ADPay). FAB’s mandate was to build and operate a complete payment eco-system enabling all Abu Dhabi Government Entities (ADGE) to receive payments in an easy, unified and secure manner.

Building a digital payments acceptance infrastructure for an entire city’s populace requires an efficient and reliable payment processing infrastructure. FAB the banking partner for Abu Dhabi Digital Authority selected FSS as its technology services partner. The company’s wide experience in deploying population-scale payments processing infrastructure for Central Banks and payment consortiums in the Gulf Cooperation Council region and in-country presence and support infrastructure influenced the decision.

How it Works?

The workings of the service are simple. ADPay brings all federal government agencies onto a single platform to deliver a superior and integrated digital payment experience to citizens. With The one government” approach customers can register once and initiate payments for any public service using online, mobile, and in-store channels. Designed to address evolving customer payment preferences, AdPay supports payments through cards and non-card payment rails including Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Payit wallet, CB UAEPGS (Direct Debit) and Payby payment options, with the flexibility to add new payment methods.

Customers can also log into Tamm, an application owned by ADDA, where the majority of the government entities’ services are configured to provide a one stop solution to customers.

The underlying Omni-Channel Acquiring platform comprises a biller management and payment processing platform. The biller management module manages the complete life-cycle of billers including onboarding, fee management, bill presentment and reporting. The online payment processing module is responsible for transaction authentication, authorisation, and processing.

To improve customer stickiness, ADPay incorporates a range of added value capabilities. This includes:

  • Single Payment for Multiple Bills: Allows customers to bundle payments to diverse billers in a single transaction. At the backend the FSS bill payment module automatically splits and settles the transaction with respective billers
  • Recurring Payments: Delivers convenience and improves timeliness of collections by enabling customers to provide direct debit instructions
  • Link Payments: Allows billers to send reminders embedded with a payment link to prevent late payment fee.
  • Donation Button: Provides citizens an option to add a ‘charity amount’ to the total transaction amount.

Services Impact

Currently over 20 government entities have been onboarded onto the platform enabling customers to conduct a range of transactions – such as taxes, utility payments, license fees, traffic violation fees - using their preferred channel and payment mode.

ADPay processes close to 4 million transactions annually. In the ongoing pandemic, with concerns of transmission of the virus through the exchange of physical currency, ADPay has helped Abu Dhabi Digital Authority to align with growing citizen preference for safe and contactless payment options whilst driving collection efficiencies.

Furthermore, a single windowpane for collecting payments for all public services reduces functional silos within the government and improves information sharing for betterment of services and citizen convenience.

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