Embracing a New Norm
Simplicity and acceleration: these key themes underpin the digital reinvention of the banking sector in Oman and the wider Middle East. A seamless and cashless service that is delivered quickly tops customers’ wish list, especially those with digital acumen. Can the current trajectory make this a reality? The answer was a resounding yes from expert speakers at HSBC's Digital Summit Oman 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel on 18 September 2018.
A ‘Total Digital’ approach that puts our customers at the center of process re-engineering and product development is used in Oman and in the wider Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. This accelerates transaction times and gives customers more flexibility in using our services how – and when – it suits them.
Andrew Long, HSBC Oman’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Strong attendance at the event included leading corporates representing a cross section of Oman’s economy and valuable insights from Andrew Long, CEO of HSBC Oman, and Ali Hassan Moosa, CEO of the Oman Banks Association, among many other esteemed participants (please see list of attendees below).
Amid today’s positive digital disruption, the seventy-year relationship that has flourished since HSBC first established a presence in Oman in 1948, will continue to be characterised by trust and transparency. Digital tools will serve to enhance this engagement and not erode it, explained experts.
HSBC in Oman already uses a ‘Total Digital’ approach that puts customers at the center of process re-engineering and product development. Customers’ kaleidoscope of options includes Global Transfers via HSBC Personal Internet Banking and Mobile Banking, Apple and Samsung Pay and cashless payments. The digital transformation of Oman’s banking sector is also reflected in a robust network of inter-connected branches and payment gateways. Experts noted that the sultanate’s strong social network means spreading the news of digital advancements in the banking sector by word-of-mouth is crucial, as is a deep-rooted trust between banks and customers.
There are always new technologies coming through the pipeline. Does that mean that banks can use them immediately? No. And there are very, very good reasons for that.
Ian Pettigrew, HSBC’s Regional Head of Innovation – Global Liquidity and Cash Management (GLCM).
Banks have a mandate to give their customers the highest level of protection, so all technologies must be rigorously tested before being integrated into the banking ecosystem. This process, however, is getting quicker and quicker.
HSBC has not just been part of the global conversation on digital advancements – it has been at the forefront for more than three decades. Most recently, plans to spend USD15 billion - USD17 billion on technology up to 2020 are underway, in addition to USD6 billion in recent years. An appetite for innovation lies at the core of the bank’s development. The ability of HSBC’s customers to open an account they can use, digitally, in just 10 minutes end-to-end, was built on FinTech design principles. The bank now has global innovation labs dedicated to Blockchain, AI, data analytics and cyber-security.
Taking a macro view, progress in each ‘camp’ will enable the local banking sector in Oman to deepen its support of the sultanate’s economic growth and bid to become a knowledge-based economy, as per the National Vision 2040. The national e-payment gateway and ‘Sas’ program being developed by the Information Technology Authority are notable examples of how the government is dedicated to developing an internationally competitive ICT industry, new technologies and commercially viable and technology-based SMEs.
Therefore, accelerated digital efficiency in the banking sector will support – if not increase – the World Bank’s estimate that Oman’s GDP will rise by 2.3 per cent in 2018 and 2.5 per cent in 2019. The same applies to strengthening the sultanate’s position on the Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018, where Oman currently ranks as the 62nd most competitive country worldwide. Looking ahead, potential abounds. Global strategy consulting firm ‘Strategy&’ estimates that digitisation could add as much as USD820 billion to regional GDP and create 4.4 million new jobs by 2020. To give a sharper context to the potential of the job market, consider that the United Nations puts Oman’s entire population at 4.6 million.
Oman is making good progress in the global push to simplify services and accelerate execution for customers, but the quickened pace must continue to sustain competitiveness, experts agreed. The local banking community is eager to embrace and create a new digital norm while ensuring that the sector’s heart – customer relationships – beats stronger than ever.