Dubai bank Emirates NBD is seeking to capitalise on the growing e-commerce market in the UAE with the launch of its own online marketplace.

The SkyShopper platform will enable the bank’s credit and debit card customers to pay for items including flights, hotels, electronics, fashion items, groceries, entertainment and international shopping using one check-out.

It’s a leap of faith really because there are very few banks that have done this, said Suvo Sarkar, senior executive vice president, and group head – retail banking and wealth management, Emirates NBD.

We are definitely the first bank in the region. We are very confident our customers will like it, I think it’s adding further value to their banking life and I think it will take off.

He added that the bank would not make money from transactions and wanted to encourage cashless payments rather than compete with regional e-commerce players like Souq.com.

We are not in the business of making margins from this. It’s allowing us to connect our customers with the shop e-tailers and retailers and shopping stores in the country, Sarkar said.

– Our focus in this area is because for our customer base 30-35 per cent, nearly one third of our entire card spend today is online shopping and online payment.

Consultancy firm A.T. Kearney predicts that e-commerce will grow more than three times faster than traditional retail in the Gulf over the coming years, from $5.3bn in 2015 to $20bn by 2020.

Emirates NBD has partnered with a number of retailers and online shopping players for the platform including travel sites Cleartrip and Musafir, fashion portal Namshi and electronics stores Axiom, Jumbo and Sharaf DG.

Ticket booking site Platinumlist, groceries app Trolley.ae, US onward delivery site MyUS.com and Indian delivery platform My Spart Price are among the other participants.

The bank said it was also working on deals with Booking.com, The Luxury Closet, 6thSTREET.COM and Headout, with Sarkar revealing it would also like to include Souq.com in the future.

The site forms part of Emirates NBD’s planned Dhs500m ($136m) investment in digital services announced last year and comes as banks in the UAE become increasingly technology focussed.

In February, the lender followed Commercial Bank of Dubai by launching a digital banking service targeted at millennials. Other banks in the country are also planning similar products.

Sarkar said the site would initially be available to UAE customers, with several launch offers available from today, before being gradually rolled out to other markets

The e-commerce market in UAE is valued at $10bn and its forecast to double by 2020. Given the fact that we are the largest issuer of cards in the market we want to participate in this growing marketplace, he said.

We are not making any money out of it, it is not a commercial venture for us, but really a venture to make customers more sticky with us and build their loyalty with us.

Source: Gulf Business

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