Buna, the UAE-based cross-border payment system, will add currencies from India, China, Pakistan and African and European countries in 2024-25.

“We continue to offer innovative services and also launched a number of services such as instant payment. We are working to implement a number of initiatives to link the Buna platform and other payment methods from other countries including China, India and Pakistan in addition to continental payment systems in Europe and Africa,” Fahad Al Turki, chairman of the Arab Regional Payments Clearing and Settlement Organisation (Buna), said on the first day of the World Governments Summit in Dubai.

Mohamed bin Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, said Buna’s cross-border payment solution will enhance investments among Arab countries and encourage the use of Arab currencies in transactions.

He added that this platform has a high level of compliance to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism, and monitoring such activities.

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE, attended the official recognition of Buna for its achievements.

The system is connected to 108 live banks across 14 countries while additional 105-plus banks are in the process of onboarding the platform. Currently, six currencies including four from the Arab region – UAE dirham, Saudi riyal, Egyptian pound and Jordanian dinar – and the US dollar and European single currency euro are part of the platform, processing real-time funds transfer cost-effectively.

Mehdi Manna, CEO of Buna, said that today, cross-border payments are facing challenges related to slowness, lack of transparency and difficulty in accessing. “The key objective of Buna is to resolve all these challenges with particular focus on the Arab region to enhance the economic integration within the region and empower the economies of the Arab countries,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the World Governments Summit 2024.

Buna covers payments of government-to-government, government-to-citizens, individuals-to-individuals and remittances. The platform is currently processing thousands of payments every month.

“The aim is to grow rapidly. By the end of this year or early next year, we will reach millions of payments every month.

“In terms of participation of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, African and European currencies, they will join the platform if not this year, then next year,” he said, adding that Buna is a centralised platform, hence minimising the cost of its infrastructure.

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