I’ve begun researching online payment options for a new e-commerce
venture that I am planning.

In a nutshell - the payment options that are available to UAE merchants is dismal. As of the writing of this post, I have found the following. I will continue to update this list with my findings:

  • Paypal. Everyone knows this one. It’s one of the better ones out there, but not without it’s detractors and hate sites. Problems: You can only withdraw funds to a US based bank account. For the life of me, I do not understand how this makes sense. How does a UAE base merchant open a US based bank account? Logic = none. In addition, your customers are billed in USD, not in AED.
  • Mashreq Bank.
    Currently looking into this one. Strangely there is absolutely no
    information on their website about this. Then again, there never is
    much on local sites anyway. I have been told by HSBC locally that
    Mashreq Bank, Emirates NBD and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD)
    are the only processors of credit cards in the country. Local
  • Etisalat Payment Gateway.
    Currently awaiting more information from them. I have read that they
    work with Emirates NBD and NBAD. However, going with them adds an
    extra layer to your costs?
  • PIPS. Created by Prosum, a firm based out of Jebel Ali, PIPS stand for Prosum
    Integrated PaySwitch. I have got in touch with them and am waiting
    to hear back. Unfortunately there is limited information available on their corporate site aside from their vision to be the largest mobile payment processor in the region by 2010. Isn’t that now?

More when I have it. Fire away in the comments should you wish to. It’s a long journey of learning.

Update: I’ve posted a quick primer on Understanding Online Payments
in the UAE over at the JadoPado Blog, if you’re looking for a quick intro to how it’s all supposed to work! You may also want to check out The 2014 Edition: Online Payments in the UAE and the 2016 edition.