Oman has all of the key ingredients necessary to evolve into a major ‘fintech’ player in the MENA region, according to a leading Muscat-based advocate of the wave of technological innovations that are disrupting the banking and financial services industry elsewhere around the world.
“With the given infrastructure we have at present, Oman has the potential to become a fintech hub,” Majid al Amri, founder and CEO of Thawani Technologies revealed at the opening of the Banking and Finance Conference and Expo held at Sundus Rotana Muscat on Sunday.
However, he lamented that, of the 105 fintech firms currently operating in the MENA region, there wasn’t a single fintech in Oman. The GCC accounted for 43 per cent of the region’s fintech firms, almost all of them located in the United Arab Emirates.
Wamda Research Lab, in their 2016 study, revealed that the Arab world was home to 105 fintech start-ups in 2015. While these start-ups span 12 countries, they are equally distributed between the GCC, the Levant and North Africa. 29 per cent are located in the Levant region and 28 per cent in North Africa.
The Middle East saw an increase of 71 per cent in the growth in fintech investments between mid-2015 to mid-2016.
This is very small compared to the surge in South America, China and Australia where there is an average of 300 per cent growth in fintech investments, Al Amri noted.
“In Oman, 63 per cent of the people have access to smartphones with an estimated 8 million smartphone devices registered. It’s twice the population of the country. And, 74 per cent of the people represent the banked adult population. Hence, as a country we are very much ready to adopt the technology,” Al Amri added.
According to Al Amri, fintech will revolutionise the financial services sector of the country, as they are cheaper, more convenient and more accessible.
“It is blending technology with finance. Fintech plays a very important role in payments, wealth management, and monitoring of fraud and money laundering, as it reorganises the entire financial ecosystem, in collaboration with the existing banking infrastructure,” he said.
In his address, the CEO of Thawani Technologies said many people think that fintech firms are a threat to the banks. “But I say the relationship is more of a partnership. Fintechs and banks can establish a culture for innovation in the finance sector. Both can leverage on big data and analytics. Fintech allows one to have access on big data which can help into making big decisions, not only for firms and businesses but with regulators and government in general. Both respond positively to rapidly growing technology trends which ultimately enhance customer experience and generate new revenue streams,” he added. He concluded with an appeal to the entire ecosystem to make Oman a fintech hub in the region.
Thawani joins Banking & Finance Confex 2017
MUSCAT: Thawani, Oman’s innovative mobile e-payment start-up, participated in the Banking & Finance Confex, a landmark event that brings together leaders in the banking and finance sector from Oman and the region to boost economic development and facilitate greater investment flows between the government and private sector.
In his speech, Majid al Amri, founder and CEO of Thawani Technologies said, “Advancements in fintech, as with the development and launch of our Thawani app, are vital for the government and the Sultanate as a whole, to meet its financial goals of economic diversification.
It does so by providing increased data and clarity with transactions, offering an enhanced financial experience and empowers both businesses and consumers to make more informed decisions.
This in turn leads to increased consumer demand and also accelerates the growth of SMEs, a sector vital to the growth and development of any economy.”
The Thawani payments platform and app was launched on May 2, 2017, under the auspices of Sayyid Taimur bin Asaad bin Tareq al Said, marking the beginning of a new era of easy and secure e-payment solutions in Oman.