Citizen Trust in Online Payment of Government Services in UAE: The Numbers and Beyond

An interesting number came out yesterday could help in understanding the current status of citizen’s trust in online payment of government services in United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Emirates eGovernment – which part of Telecommunication Regulatory Authority and runs the federal eGovernment program – published the results of an online survey which revealed that great majority (83 percent) of   the 2300 people participated in the survey said “they trust paying government fees online“.

Result of online government payment survey (source: emiratesegov.ae)

Though the surveyed sample is not quite large and they are internet-savvy by nature (the survey was conducted online only and promoted via Twitter and Facebook), the 83 percentage of those who trust paying government fees through government online payment gateways is large enough to draw a positive conclusion about the readiness of citizens and residents in UAE to use these payment gateways.

Let’s have a look at some numbers of actual usage online payment via government gateway to further elaborate this. One of the most famous and popular government online payment gateways in UAE and the region is ePay from Dubai eGovernment.  The numbers show a positive trend in using this service over the past three years. Over AED 1.5 billion (1 AED = 0.272 USD) was paid by users of government services in Dubai via this gateway in 2009 only.  This number has jumped to exceed AED 2.5 billion in 2010 and AED 2.7 billion in the first 3 quarters of 2011 (see figure below).

Actual Usage of ePay (source: deg.gov.ae)

One reason behind this positive trend is the investments being made by the government in offering online services and payment gateways with the highest safety and security standards, and as H. E. Salem Khamis Al Shair Al Suwaidi – Director General of Emirates eGovernment said addressing the minority that doesn’t trust government payment gateways: ” The UAE adopt the highest safety and security measures to protect users’ data. In the rare cases when an online transaction fails, there are channels to get a refund for the incomplete transaction“.

When looking at wider eCommerce context in UAE, we can realize  that these  positive numbers on the government sector side is not surprising. A recent study by Visa on the e-commerce market in the GCC  revealed that the UAE has the “lion’s share of GCC e-commerce transactions“. The report has shown that the total B2C e-Commerce sales in the UAE have grown to approximately $2 billion in 2010, which represents approximately 55% to 60% of the total GCC e-Commerce sales.

So,  these numbers offer the government entities in UAE another sign on the readiness of the citizens and residents to pay online for their services. This situation should be leveraged by these entities in two ways:  working harder and smarter in attracting the minority that is still hesitating paying online, and coming close to majority already using the service to offer them a better experience while using online government services.

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