ABU DHABI // There was confusion yesterday over a claim by the Emirates Identity Authority that its ID cards were now essential for all banking transactions done in person.

A senior official from the Emirates Identity Authority [Eida] made the claim yesterday, backing up reports in the Arabic press that said the development was the result of a ministerial directive. However, banks seemed unaware of the requirement.

Saleh Al Bareky, first registry administrator at Eida, said that the Central Bank had ordered all banks to refuse any customer attempting any transaction in person who could not provide an Emirates ID card.

Mr Al Bareky said: “I think the banks started implementing this from today, and it is good.”

He said the Central Bank’s decision would ensure that people applied for the ID cards.

The Arabic press reports quoted Saeed Al Hamiz, assistant governor of the Central Bank, as saying the cards would be essential for anyone seeking a loan. The reports credited the directive to Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs and the chairman of the Federal Credit Bureau.

But banks yesterday appeared unaware of the directive.

An official from the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank’s customer care centre, said: “No Emirates ID card is required to apply for a loan. We need only the original passport, salary certificate and three months worth of salary statements.”

And an official from HSBC said: “We require an original passport with a valid visa page, a salary transfer certificate and three months of bank statements. And we did not hear anything about Emirates ID cards … it is not required.”

Eida’s goal is that the Emirates ID card will one day be used by residents to access a range of services, from getting treatment at a hospital to opening a bank account, paying traffic fines and even taking flights.

However, it has faced difficulties in getting residents to sign up for the cards and was forced to delay a number of deadlines for them to do so. It now appears to be suffering similar delays in communicating its plan to the banking sector.

Dr Ali Mohamed Al Khouri, Director General of Eida, is quoted on the organisation’s website as saying the ID card could eventually be used to replace ATM cards, depending on the banks’ interest.

The website says ID card readers have been distributed to a number of government organisations and that a practical test had been carried out in collaboration with a local bank.

According to Dr Al Khouri, the “new procedures helped save 15-20 minutes compared with opening an account in the traditional manner.”

He said the test proved the advantages of the ID card by enabling the bank’s employee to gain all the customer’s relevant personal information merely by putting the card in the reader.

Eida says it has registered eight million people in the ID card scheme out of a population of nine million.

The Central Bank was unavailable for comment.