Oman - e-government payments
Oman Arab Bank (OAB) is the leading corporate bank in the Sultanate of Oman, with operations commencing in 1972, has an impressive 46 branches across the nation. OAB is an affiliate of the Arab Bank Group in Jordan, which is the largest single banking group in the Middle East. In a move of industry leadership, OAB decided to address the difficult challenges the government and payment industry was facing by establishing the infrastructure for, and then providing the required e-Payment services to the Omani government for both the corporate and retail segments.
Local, domestic payment system
Challenges that had prevented a move to a cashless payment solution included the high cost of transactions and operation of traditional international payment solutions. Another very important issue was to ensure confidentiality of sensitive payment and ID information which was a concern that could not be adequately addressed by the available international schemes. The government demanded a local, domestic payment system that would be managed, operated, and processed from within the Sultanate so that no information (sensitive or otherwise) would ever leave the Sultanate. OAB realized the BGS SmartCard Payment Platform ideally met those requirements, by granting full ownership and exclusive control of the payment system to the operating bank.
Amongst the considerations in its procurement phase, OAB was seeking a secure solution that would not only provide it with the possibility to have a closed loop government payment cycle, but to also use the same technology platform to provide full payment services both to the retail (B2C) industry (supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants, shops, hotels and etc.), and the corporate (B2B) industry. OAB required a local nationwide payment system.OAB found what it required in addition to flexibility and a rapid time to market in the BGS SmartCard Payment Platform, a card-to-card-based preauthorized off-and on-line payment solution.
In early 2003 the Omani Government and OAB launched the 1st e-government smart card payment system in Oman. BGS SmartCard Payment Platform technology enabled the Bank to create logical “payment zones” so that the dedicated use of funds, in particular for the B2G segment could be streamlined. This resulted in a payment ecosystem where our multi-wallet solution could dedicate a set of funds in the card for use exclusively in government sites (said funds would be unavailable in retail or corporate outlets) further securing the interests of the corporates sending their employees to conduct payments on behalf of the corporations. Likewise retail payments could be designated as dedicated as well, such as enabling a card or “e-wallet” for exclusive use as a petrol card. The flexibility of the BGS SmartCard Payment Platform enables Oman Arab Bank to make these and many other policy decisions together with their customers independently, thus empowering them to be flexible and autonomous in its application of our technology.
The e-Government solution is running successfully and profitably in all government ministries including airports and seaports, Royal Oman Police, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Man Power (labour fees and renewals/income taxes), Muscat Municipality (all permits) et al. The largest telecom and private enterprise in Oman (PTT) is also offering OAB payment facilities in all of its 40 branches for telephone and utility bill payments. As OAB and the government commence their twelfth year of operations with the smart card solution, transaction volumes are reaching several hundred million Euros with hundreds of thousands of transactions being processed. The Application Service Provider Model designed by Oman Arab Bank is an outstanding model for banks and governments alike to follow.