CashU, a Dubai-based online prepaid and mobile payment solutions firm, has said it is in talks with several UAE banks to introduce direct debit payments systems, its CEO has told Arabian Business. The firm signed a deal with Emirates NBD in October to introduce automatic payments between account holders and merchants and expects the service to be available by the first half of 2012, said Martin Waldenstrom. “We are in talks with several banks about direct debits so instead of using a credit card or any other means of payment [account holders] will be able to do a direct debit from their account. We have already signed an agreement with Emirates NBD so that will start working very soon…. it’s been delayed but during the first half of the year it’s going to be up and running,” he said. “We are in talks [with other banks] but we haven’t signed agreements with them yet. They are all UAE. We have had discussions with banks in Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan,” he added. Direct debits, a common form of payment in the UK, Brazil, Germany and the Netherlands, give merchants the authority to claim money from a bank account to pay regular bills or repay loans. They can also be used for one-time payments in the mail order business and at points of sale. British consumers made nearly 5.7bn payments, totaling GBP£4.3 trillion (US$6.7 trillion), using direct debits in 2011, according to Bacs. “Once we get one or two banks on board, I think it [direct debit payments] will take off - the interest is there. I think CashU can be a catalyst for this to happen because many of the banks are fairly reluctant to cooperate,” said Waldenstrom. “We already have many more merchants than they [the banks] have so if they integrate with us from day one we can give them access to 7,000 merchants both domestic, regional and even international,” he added. Dubai-based CashU is operated by Jordan’s Jabbar Internet Group.