The Business Year

Said Abdullah Al Hatmi

OMAN - Finance

Said Abdullah Al Hatmi

CEO, Ahlibank

Bio

Said Abdullah Al Hatmi holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in business administration. He is a Certified Management Accountant from the Institute of Management Accountants in the US and has completed the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Program and executive management programs from Harvard Business School and the University of Virginia. He is Deputy Chairman of OQ SAOC, a board member and treasurer of the Oman Bank Association, and a member of the advisory board of the College of Economic and Political Studies at SQU. He has over 20 years of diverse commercial banking experience in the areas of corporate banking, retail banking, risk management, finance, and banking operations.

Ahlibank's ongoing initiatives to maintain the bank's status quo during the pandemic and ensure that its services remain unaffected helped propel its growth even in a difficult year.

What have been some of the other major highlights across your operations over the past year?

Despite current economic conditions, ahlibank has been resilient and swift in ensuring that banking services remain uninterrupted whilst its business processes and digital infrastructure are continuously being strengthened. In terms of the major highlights of the past year, ahlibank increased its branch network to 31 branches by opening three conventional banking and three Islamic banking branches in different parts of the Sultanate. ahlibank also signed an agreement to offer Tasdeed services, and there are now innovative payment solutions available on the bank’s corporate online banking platform—ahlinet. As a testament of our customer-first ethos, we introduced several special offers, deals, and discount programs with our contactless credit cards. We also launched the Imtiyaz account, which offers enhanced banking services through a package of specially designed benefits to suit customers’ contemporary lifestyles; the youth account, MyChoice, which caters to the working youth; and Istqrar, which is dedicated to the retiree segment. As we continue on our remarkable growth journey, ahlibank has embarked on an ambitious expansion of its headquarters in Al Wattayah, aiming to position it as a center of innovation. The expansion project will contribute to creating a proper and stimulating work environment to enhance the performance of our human resources and promote a sustainable balance between our social responsibility and the growth of our business activities.

How are digital services shaping the traditional retail and wholesale banking sector, and how can banks like ahlibank stay ahead of the innovation curve?

The pandemic has accelerated businesses’ shift to digital technology and mandated a digital transformation in almost every industry. In the banking sector, most banks are moving swiftly to upgrade their digital infrastructure, systems, and services in order to adapt to the changing needs of its customers and the rapidly changing business and economic landscape. We have been continuously investing in improving our digital capabilities, upgrading our systems, and strengthening our financial technology and infrastructure. We are continuously upgrading our mobile banking applications and enhancing our online banking platforms, such as B2B platform, e-channels, and internet banking, to fully streamline our services and improve service efficiency while putting in place safety and cybersecurity measures. Banks in Oman are gradually adopting the digital transformation in their businesses and operations. Apart from improving internal systems and processes, it is necessary to collaborate or partner with digital service providers, IT, and fintech companies to boost their digital capabilities. As to the impact of fintech on Oman’s banking industry, it has allowed banks to offer better customer experiences through contactless transactions, mobile and internet banking, and real-time transactions. The Central Bank of Oman has introduced new regulatory frameworks and approaches for the development and enhancement of innovation in the financial sector and designed initiatives to push forward the digital transformation journey in the financial industry, and ahlibank is fully committed to supporting these initiatives.

How do you assess the financial sophistication of the youth in Oman and their ability to plan their finances?

The savings habits amongst the youth in Oman is comparatively low. This is due to the limited financial products and channels that encourage saving and investing. In order to create this culture, we need to provide access to proper information and introduce a savings and investment culture accompanied with viable products and digital channels in order to encourage the youth to save. A large percentage of Oman’s population is composed of young people. As part of the government’s economic plan and vision, the focus is on investing in the development of the youth as the future leaders of the country. The introduction of our MyChoice segment is intended to open up several options for youth, assist them in planning their finances, and present them with the real benefits of saving and its value in the long run.

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