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Home: Living Here: eDirham (Electronic Card)

The government of the United Arab Emirates has newly introduced an electronic card known as the e-Dirham, which is used to pay for government services. The eDirham was launched on the 3rd of February 2001 to make it easier for the government to collect payments. Some semi-government organizations and private sector companies also accept the eDirham. E-Dirham cards can be gotten from any of the eDirham member banks.

Example eDirham cardTypes of e-Dirham Cards
The first type is known as the ‘Fixed Value’ eDirham card and is similar to a prepaid card which can hold the following dirham amounts - 100 / 200 / 300 / 500 / 1,000 / 3,000 / 5,000. As its name implies, this type of e-Dirham card has a fixed value, so no additional money can be put into the card. It is possible to use two eDirham cards to settle the fee of one government service. Online services are provided by the government to view card transactions or check the balance of a e-Dirham card.

The second type of e-Dirham card is known as the ‘Government Client’ eDirham card and it was created for individuals who regularly need to pay for government services. The card can be obtained by individuals or companies from any of the e-Dirham member banks and can only be used by the original cardholder. To apply for the card an individual must submit an application form and once approved the card is given to the cardholder with a PIN (Personal Identification Code) number. The card is currently issued free of charge and contains a photograph of the card holder. Once issued, the card has a zero balance and the card holder must transfer funds into the card at any of the e-Dirham member banks by means of cash or account transfer.

The eStamp
At the government offices, you normally have to wait in line to pay for any given service, but the UAE Ministry of Finance & Industry has introduced the e-Stamp in order to reduce the large queuing crowds. When visiting a government office, stop at the typing office next to the building where application forms are printed out from a Smart Form computer that has an eDirham POS terminal attached to it. The printed application forms contain the eStamp on it, indicating all of the money payments that have been transferred from an eDirham card. The e-Stamp application form can then be deposited at any of the various offices.

Current Drawbacks of the e-Dirham
Accessibility of the eDirham - Many of the government offices don't have an e-Dirham member bank (or even any bank) in walking distance from the government office, which makes it difficult for those visiting the government office for the first time, as well as for individuals who don't have cars. As the e-Dirham is also not obtainable from all local banks, individuals are forced to visit an e-Dirham member bank in order to obtain an e-Dirham card.

Cost of the e-Dirham - It costs Dhs. 2 to obtain a ‘Fixed Value’ e-Dirham card from an e-Dirham member bank. Though two dirhams is a small amount of money, customers shouldn't be forced to pay extra to obtain the card.

e-Dirham Conclusion
The idea of the eDirham was good but the difficulty of obtaining the card and the extra costs involved in obtaining it, become disadvantageous to customers.

For more information about the eDirham, you can visit the eDirham website.

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