Earlier this month our Financial Services team was approached by Mastercard to see if we’d be willing to host a delegation from the Dubai government.

As part of their visit to the UK they wanted to understand what role we played in encouraging innovation in financial services, especially in the payments sector.

I thought it sounded like a great idea and a chance for me to understand more about global financial services based on their experiences.

So, after brushing up on important Arabic customs and greetings I welcomed them to the HM Treasury building for what was a really interesting discussion.

Leading the group was Ms Amna Mohamed Bin Lootah, Director of Dubai’s Smart Financial Services division (SFS). She explained her role as delivering outstanding and smart financial services so that a citizen’s experience of paying for public services in Dubai is as positive as possible.

We both agreed that there is definitely a role for organisations like ours to encourage innovation, as evident in the world of payments. Whilst the public sector has very little to no competition when it comes to accepting payments (when I need to renew my car tax there’s only one place I can buy it from), that shouldn’t stop us looking at how we can make citizens’ experiences of using our services as slick as possible. It was interesting to discover that there is a body similar to our Government Digital Service (GDS) in Dubai.

Just as CCS financial services team works closely with GDS on payments innovation and increasing cashless payments, the SFS of Dubai works closely with their own digital counterparts.

We spoke about open banking – which has been pushed by recent EU legislation and will, eventually, affect everyone who banks here including consumers and businesses. While open banking is still in its early stages the team is attempting to support and more importantly encourage it in the public sector by looking for innovative services in our next Payments Acceptance framework. As an example, we’re seeking Payment Initiation Service Providers, or PISPs (who in this area are predominantly small fintechs) which provide a quicker and simpler way of making a payment. For anyone taking a non-cash payment for goods and services they are also cheaper.

It’s obvious that there’s a lot we can learn by listening to the experiences of others, but it’s also interesting to hear about the challenges we share in two countries as seemingly different as the UK and Dubai.

Now that the relationship with the SFS of Dubai has been established I’ll be keeping in touch to carry on sharing and comparing how they and we continue to push innovation.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions, get in touch and speak to one of our experts today. For information about how our Financial Services frameworks can help you optimise your finances so you can bolster frontline funding, take a look at our Financial Services page.