UAE issues new digital law, covers all forms of payments, transactions

The UAE's most recent digital legislation encompasses all forms of online payment and transactions, both domestically and internationally, offering enhanced consumer protections, according to David Yates, partner and head of digital and data at Al Tamimi & Company.

Yates explained that the new law aims to regulate trade conducted through any digital means available. While e-commerce traditionally operates via websites, digital trade has expanded to include various platforms such as apps and blockchain. This legislation broadens the scope of traditional e-commerce regulations to encompass all digital methods of trading.

Federal Decree No. 14 of 2023, introduced late last year, supersedes previous legislation by addressing all aspects of digital payments and transactions. Unlike its predecessor, which solely focused on e-commerce, the new law offers comprehensive protection to consumers in the UAE.

The law applies to transactions conducted by both buyers and sellers through any digital means, whether within the UAE or abroad, when residents make purchases. However, there are exceptions, as it does not extend to government procurement, digital currency transactions, or financial services.

Yates emphasized that the previous e-commerce law failed to capture transactions involving emerging technologies such as blockchain, mobile apps, and digital platforms. The updated legislation not only encompasses current technologies but also anticipates future advancements in the digital landscape.

The law prioritizes consumer interests by introducing additional safeguards. For instance, it mandates that consumers have a mechanism to provide feedback on digital platforms, offering protection against fraud and ensuring accountability in transactions.

Moreover, the legislation addresses the formation of digital contracts, stipulating that contracts formed through verifiable identity authentication are legally binding.

Yates anticipates that the Executive Regulations, expected to be released later, will outline penalties focused on consumer rights, such as obtaining refunds and facilitating resolutions between parties involved in disputes.

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