June 25, 2024
3 min read

Jaywan, the UAE's new domestic card scheme

Written with love by
Anselm Obi

Origins of Jaywan

Jaywan is the latest addition to the UAE's financial landscape, representing a significant step towards enhancing the nation's financial infrastructure. Al Etihad Payments, the country’s new national payment entity, a subsidiary of the UAE Central Bank, introduced this domestic card scheme as part of the UAE's broader efforts to bolster financial independence, security, and inclusivity. 

The introduction of the new card scheme follows the trend of national card schemes around the region, like mada in Saudi Arabia, Troy in Turkey and the recently launched RuPay in India. The name "Jaywan," meaning "precious pearl" in Arabic, reflects the scheme's ambition to foster economic growth and facilitate seamless transactions for residents and businesses within the UAE.

The initiative to launch Jaywan was driven by several key motivations:

  • Economic Sovereignty: The UAE aims to reduce its reliance on international payment networks by establishing a domestic card scheme. This enhances economic sovereignty and ensures that transaction fees and data remain within the country, supporting local businesses and the national economy.
  • Financial Inclusion: Jaywan is designed to make financial services more accessible to all segments of the UAE population, including those who may not have had access to traditional banking services. This aligns with the UAE government's goals of promoting financial inclusion and digital literacy.
  • Enhanced Security: With a domestic card scheme, the UAE can implement security measures tailored to the local market. This reduces the risk of fraud and cyber threats, providing consumers with a safer payment option.

Benefits of Jaywan

The introduction of Jaywan offers a multitude of benefits, positioning it as a transformative force in the UAE's financial sector:

  • Cost Efficiency: One of Jaywan's primary advantages is reducing transaction costs. Using a domestic network allows merchants and consumers to save on fees that would otherwise be paid to international card networks. This makes everyday transactions more affordable and encourages spending within the local economy.
  • Localised Services: Jaywan is tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the UAE market. This localisation includes customised rewards programs and loyalty schemes more in tune with the country's cultural and economic context.
  • Enhanced Consumer Protection: With the UAE having full control over the Jaywan scheme, the regulatory framework can be more effectively enforced and enhanced. This leads to stronger consumer protection measures, ensuring users have recourse in disputes or fraudulent activities.
  • Economic Growth: By keeping transaction fees and data within the country, Jaywan supports local financial institutions and businesses. The increased spending and reduced outflows contribute to overall economic growth, fostering a more resilient and self-sufficient economy.
  • Data Privacy and Security: With a domestic card scheme, the UAE can implement robust data protection policies, ensuring that sensitive financial information is handled carefully. This enhances trust among consumers and businesses, knowing their data is secure.

Where and when can Jaywan’s cards be used? 

Al Etihad Payments is committed to rolling out the new card scheme to all licensed financial institutions over the next two and a half years. It will first be widely available for domestic transactions within the UAE, but we suspect the card would also work in countries with established bilateral acceptance. A similar approach exists among GCC nations for online and point-of-sale transactions. 

For international transactions, Al Etihad Payments has also created a legal framework for issuers to release co-branded cards alongside international card schemes like Visa and Mastercard. This will also cater to residents who travel often. 


Jaywan represents a significant milestone in the UAE's journey towards a more independent, secure, and inclusive financial ecosystem. By addressing the specific needs of the local market and leveraging advanced technology, Jaywan promises to offer cost-efficient, secure, and accessible payment solutions for all. As the UAE continues to innovate and adapt to the evolving digital landscape, Jaywan is poised to play a crucial role in shaping the future of payments in the country.