The Business Year

Oman has a plethora of banks specializing in different sectors. But with digital banking solutions taking the center stage, banks are fighting to become the bank of choice for the next generation.

Abdul Hakeem Al Ojaili

CEO, Bank Dhofar

Bank Dhofar has always been at the forefront of technology adoption in the region. We started the digital transformation journey several years back with a clear focus on providing the best customer experience by leveraging digital channels. We were able to see significant uptake in the use of internet and mobile banking channels within six months. Over the past few years, we have also ensured continuous enhancements of services through digital channels that are complemented with a suite of latest electronic self-service terminals including ATMs, CDMs, and multi-function kiosks. We have adopted a holistic approach to digital transformation by digitization and automation of end-to-end processes. This helped us to improve our customer service and turnaround times significantly and accelerate the use of digital and self-service channels. Bank Dhofar has embarked on an ambitious five-year transformation journey, dubbed Together 2020, since 2016. This is to support our long-term goal of positioning ourselves as a leader in customer experience. In the past two years, we’ve put in place an aggressive implementation plan that would serve as the platform over which we can build our future bank. We strongly believe that Bank Dhofar will be set to deliver a unique and desirable experience to our customers across Oman.

Sayyid Wasfi bin Jamshid Al Said

CEO, National Bank of Oman (NBO)

We have always participated in supporting government projects that add value to the development and diversification of the economy. In Duqm, we are working on many projects including the refinery project, which promise to have a significant impact on the country’s development aspirations. We continue to be interested in the strategic sectors that the government has identified as priorities such as mining, logistics, and fisheries. In addition, we are one of the few banks that have taken wholesale funding from abroad, in part through our recently-completed Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN), which was well received by foreign investors. In terms of digitization, digital channels and technologies provide opportunities to know our customers better and tailor products and offerings to individual needs. We have been successful in migrating customers onto our digital platforms because our whole approach has been what works best for “them.“ We follow strict criteria of research and customer-led feedback and use test cases before we make any changes to our mobile app, internet banking interface or other delivery channels. NBO creates opportunities for people with the right attitude, and, moving forward, we aim to make NBO the undisputed bank of choice for professionals from Oman and across the region.

Rashad Ali Al Musafir

CEO, Rashad Ali Al Musafir

We launched our revamped online banking platform for both retail and corporate customers in 2017. To date, more than 26,000 of our retail and 1,800 of our corporate customers have signed up for our digital platforms, with more signing up every day as the platform continues to increase in popularity. We consider the market, best-practice banking trends, and the readiness of our customers when embarking on a change initiative. One of the key selling points of our digital banking platform, which we refer to as our Omni-channel Banking Platform, is its user interface. This interface presents customers with the same simple icon-based experience regardless of which platform they use, be it an ATM, internet banking, or the mobile app. For corporate banking, we have seen growth in demand from several sectors, especially manufacturing industries, construction, and tourism. Trading businesses also continue to remain strong and positive, and we continue to heavily enable services for government entities; and as their approach towards e-Oman increases, so does their usage of digital banking. On the regulatory side, regulations related to digital transactions are in need of an update. The current electronic transactions law was passed in 2008, therefore, the regulators must consider setting up a fintech sandbox to further promote innovation and competition.

Khalid Al-Kayed

CEO, Bank Nizwa

Islamic banking in Oman has recorded impressive growth, and as a full-fledged Islamic bank, Bank Nizwa has outperformed the sector. This has been recognized not only within Oman but also in the GCC. We are considering issuing a sukuk soon and want other Islamic banks to be a part of it. For large projects, the industry needs to collaborate on the Islamic portion at a bank level and also at an industrial level. The banking sector saw 6% overall growth in Oman, though the growth of Islamic banking reached 25-30%, which is closing the gap of the deficit within conventional banking. We now see clients moving from conventional banking to Islamic, which is a result of the success and growing awareness of Islamic banking. Our primary customers are from sectors in line with the Tanfeedh target sectors, as well as the oil and gas sector. We have been focused recently on offering project financing, and we have a number of sizable projects that we either finance individually, where according to the regulator we can go up to OMR20 million, or with allied banks. Moreover, we provide CAPEX through Islamic structure and are financing working capital and operating expenses. At present, there is a growing focus on digital banking in Oman and Bank Nizwa is bringing digital banking to its services.

Said Abdullah Al Hatmi

CEO, Ahli Bank

Being a full-fledged commercial bank, we have invested in different areas and our initial focus was to expand the commercial banking portfolio. At present, we have a well-balanced portfolio in retail, corporate, and SME banking. Remarkably, we have crossed OMR1.1 billion in corporate banking assets, and in recent years the sector has grown considerably. Retail Banking is undergoing a major expansion and Ahli Bank has embarked on a five-year strategy to expand the bank’s retail footprint across the Sultanate. We aim to have presence in all major cities and ensure we are at the forefront of technology by enhancing accessibility and convenience for our customers. We have been working to make sure that the digital revolution reaches all parts of Oman by implementing a number of technology solutions like Interactive Teller Machine (ITM), Ahli Wallet app, and more. We will soon roll out contactless payment, a completely new way for customers to make payments. We are also working on improving the B2B integrated platform and launching our Point of Sale (POS) acquiring solution for retailers. In the future, the operating environment will continue to be challenging, however, Ahli Bank will continue to build its brand value and expand its business.



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