EXPEDITE DEVELOPMENT

Oman 2016 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Amin Rasheed Al Husseini, CEO of Oman Arab Bank (OAB), on innovations in the market, e-payments, and SMEs.

Amin Rasheed Al Husseini
BIOGRAPHY
Amin Rasheed Al Husseini holds a degree in Physics and an MBA in Finance. He joined Arab Bank at its head office in Jordan in 1994, where he started his career in international banking. He was Executive Vice President and Head of Financial Institutions and Transactional Banking, when he moved to Bahrain in 2009 to head the Bank’s operations there. He served five years as General Manager of Arab Bank Off-Shore Banking Unit and Arab Bank Commercial Branches out of Manama before joining OAB in 2014 as CEO.

What are some of the new innovations and technological advances that have been made by OAB?

Banking services are evolving, along with a wider acceptance of electronic channels as secure and convenient, complementing brick-and-mortar branch banking. We are gearing up for this digital transformation by investing heavily in technology to improve transactional banking, specifically focusing on retail and cash management services. OAB wants to take it one step further by providing something truly innovative and market leading. Aptra Activate, for example, is one of the most advanced ATM software that is designed for a multi-channel banking environment. OAB is the first Bank in Oman to acquire this technology, which will improve operational efficiency, security, and customer experience. OAB will also be introducing state-of-the art Omni-channel platforms to meet customer expectations of consistent service across multiple delivery channels, along with streamlining processes at customer interactions. Furthermore, the introduction of a new electronic workflow system improves the turn-around-time for loan approvals, improving efficiencies, and enhancing customer satisfaction.

How does the recent agreement with the Administrative Court regarding e-payments align with the bank's strategy to develop technologically?

The agreement came as a catalyst to expedite our development in that field. Our strategy has always been to provide a technologically advanced platform for e-payments. Many payments go through government bodies, which is in line with government initiatives to do more electronically. The bank is on a good platform with the court through this agreement, and it puts us in a good position to seek further involvement with various ministries.

How does OAB currently provide for SMEs?

SME business is an interesting area and servicing SMEs in the Sultanate is something we enjoy doing. At OAB, the business operating model heavily involves the various branches that are located throughout the country. SMEs appreciate efficiency and are cost-aware, so they prefer to pass by the branches, especially those outside Muscat, in order to have that personal touch. All OAB staff are local to the region. Our staff call clients by their first names, and the branch feels like an extension of home to these merchants, contractors, or business owners. Often, as part of our social responsibility, we become financial advisers. Instead of focusing on profitability, we try to see, through these companies, what is best for the local community on the long term.

OAB also has strong equity management. How does this arm of the bank operate?

OAB's fully fledged investment banking division is licensed to operate across a wide spectrum of capital market activities. We are well established in asset management, covering funds and discretionary portfolio management, apart from brokerage, custody, research, corporate finance, private equity and margin financing. In addition, the Non Residence Indians (NRIs) business is very strong in Oman, and we are servicing them well. Using our alliances in UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Levant though Arab Bank Group, we provide services across the region. In terms of market share and ranking, we are among the top three custody and brokerage firms, while in asset management we have almost 15% of the market share. It is worth mentioning that out of the 60 IPOs executed in Oman, OAB actively participated in most of them in various capacities such as Lead Manager, Financial Advisor, Placement Agent and Collecting Bank.

Looking at trade finance, how does OAB support the import/export segment?

This is a traditional line of business that OAB has been doing for decades. Arab Bank Group plays a significant role in our success formula because it is a global bank that provides tremendous business and logistical support to us in addition to market intelligence. We stay active in terms of multinational companies interested in doing business in Oman via a dedicated international banking team, and we also promote the Sultanate as an attractive and viable investment haven. In June, we were in Italy, in July we were in UK, and we will be in Turkey as part of the official delegations that are engaging with the international community to promote Oman as a trade and investment partner.