“Social distancing”, “work from home”, “shelter-in-place”, “self-isolation” and “quarantine” are just some of the terms that have gained popularity in light of COVID-19.

As we continue to tackle COVID-19, we are also grappling to keep the economy from coming to a grinding halt. To this end, corporations, schools, small businesses, NGOs, governments, and individuals have adopted various digital strategies to stay connected and productive.

One of the industries that continues to operate and offer cooperation during this time is banking and finance. It continues to play a systematic role by providing support to individuals, organizations and governments. In some countries, including the UAE the government is offering relief packages to help small and medium-sized businesses stay afloat. Such funds are typically disbursed through banks in the form of loans. Meanwhile, to help support individuals, banks are also offering digital solutions to ensure clients are connected to them, while at home. Here are just some examples of the services available online:

Pay bills and subscriptions: Phone and utility bills such as DEWA can be settled from the comfort of your mobile device or online. For e-commerce and subscription services (such as Amazon, Noon, Zomato, Grocery Stores, Netflix, Google Play store and the App store), most providers give the option to store your card on file for your convenience and faster checkout on subsequent transactions.

Transfer funds: Make both local and international transfers from the comfort of your home without the need to visit a bank branch or an exchange house. Most local transfers can happen within a few minutes while international transfers typically take anywhere from 1 day to a few days depending on factors such as the sender’s bank, country of destination and the receiver’s bank. Global banks tend to have an advantage here, as they are able to leverage their network. The Citi Mobile App, for instance allows international transfers to an account denominated in a different currency. For example, you can make a transfer from your AED account to a USD account abroad. Conversion rates are also explicitly shown, so no surprises here.

Settle credit card bills: View card transactions, minimum bill due and total outstanding from the comfort of your mobile. Most digital mobile apps also allow you to settle bills and redeem rewards. On the Citi Mobile App, in addition to all of these, you can convert part of your outstanding bill into a loan.

View your electronic statement: Budgeting and saving is crucial at this time and an electronic statement can provide very useful information about where you can cut cost and/or reallocate some of your resources. Log into your online account or mobile app to view your statement.

Set up an investment account: You can trade mutual funds and investment securities (bonds, stocks, ETFs) through self-service functions online. You may be required to take an investor profile assessment.

Use remote channels: If you experience any issues, you should contact your bank’s call centre, help pages and/or send an email. Some banks even have virtual assistants to help you navigate. Avoid visiting the branch unless absolutely necessary.

Finally, is online transaction safe? The short answer is yes. However, you have to stay vigilant. As online activities surge due to the movement restrictions, fraudsters and scammers may try to seize the opportunity to send emails, SMS or make phone calls with the intention to collect personal and financial information. Please stay alert and remember that your bank and the Central bank will never ask you to voice out your ATM PIN, Telephone PIN, and OTP. You can also manage your alert setting on the Mobile App or website so that you are informed every time a transaction takes place on your account.

Stay safe.