MUSCAT, 7 March 2016 – Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, celebrated the 11th annual Partners in Progress awards ceremony at Inter-Continental Hotel Gardens as merchant partners were honoured for outstanding contributions to card business in 2015. AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive, presented the awards to senior executives of winning institutions and companies covering a total of 35 categories ranging from government services to automobiles, airlines, telecommunications, hotels and hypermarkets.
The Royal Oman Police was honoured with a special award in recognition as the pioneer in promoting electronic payments in the government sector as well as the frontrunner of e-governance in the Sultanate.
The Landmark Group won the special award for Outstanding Retail Group and Lulu Hypermarket was recognized as the Best Hypermarket in the Sultanate. The winners from the government sector for special contribution in growing card payments and reducing cash were the Ministry of Housing, Muscat Municipality, and the Ministry of Regional Municipalities & Water Resources.
The Special Merchant Contribution awards were shared by Muscat Duty Free, Carrefour and Oman Investment and Finance Company (OIFC). The award in recognition of contributions to e-commerce, which is gaining importance in Oman, was won by Al Madina Development and Supply.
Aimed at promoting electronic payments in all parts of Oman, The Best Merchants in Interior awards were shared by Al Badyah Hypermarket in Suwaiq, Oman International Container Terminal in Sohar, and Al Karama Hypermarket in Suwaiq.
The 2015 Partners in Progress (PiP) award winners include Ooredoo (Telecom Operator), Qatar Airways (Airlines), Muscat Private Hospital (Medical services), AIG Oman Branch (Insurance), Al Shaya International (Perfumes and cosmetics), Homes r Us (Furniture), EXTRA (Electronics), Saud Bahwan Automotive (Automotive Sales and Services), Elegant Rent A Car (Car rentals), Apparel International (Clothing & Fashion), Al Fair (Supermarkets), Pizza Hut (Casual dining), Kargeen Café (Restaurants), Al Lilac Beauty Centre (Beauty salon & spas), Malabar Gold & Diamonds (Jewellery), Horizon Fitness (Health & fitness centres), Global Money Exchange (Best Exchange House), OUA Travels (Travel and Tourism), Muscat China Commercial Centre (Building material suppliers), Oman Oil Marketing Company (Fuel stations), Crowne Plaza (4 Star hotels), Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa (5 Star hotels).
AbdulRazak Ali Issa said: “Bank Muscat is proud to celebrate the 11-year journey together and joint successes with merchant partners. The year 2015 was an exciting as well as challenging period for the bank's Cards and eBanking team as merchant partners recorded a 20 per cent increase in card transaction volumes and merchant outlets network grew by 25 per cent. In line with the e-governance initiatives by the government, the outstanding growth in card payment reflects that electronic payment is fast becoming the preferred mode of secure payment in the Sultanate."
In 2015, the bank continued its journey of enhancing the electronic payment infrastructure in the country. The bank introduced a state-of-the-art and secure unattended point of sale terminal. In line with the latest Chip and PIN technology standards, the terminal allows customers to conduct transactions at standalone Kiosk machines in a safe and secure manner.
The bank's IP terminals reduced transaction processing time at large volume merchants, leading to significant reduction in telecommunication costs. The solution was implemented at several large volume outlets. The bank initiated proactive steps to enhance technical and operational support to merchant partners by deploying more resources.
The bank is currently working on mobile POS (mPOS) solution to further enhance innovative payment solutions in the country. mPOS has the potential to provide an electronic payment acceptance instrument to the smallest business owner in the country besides adding value to large retailers as well.
The bank's endeavours to improve card acceptance levels in the interior regions resulted in enhancing the acquiring footprint in these areas. The bank recorded a phenomenal 130 per cent increase in merchant sign-ups showing immense potential for card transactions outside the capital area.
Amjad Al Lawati, AGM – Cards & eBanking, said: “Bank Muscat has one of the most competent teams in the payments industry. It is this 'dedication' and 'commitment to service' that has made Bank Muscat the preferred electronic payment service provider to the nation. Our ability and flexibility to adapt, innovate and provide customised payment solutions have made us unique in the market."
Bank Muscat commenced card acquiring operations in 2002 and since then has crossed many milestones to become the largest acquirer and issuer of cards in Oman. As the leading electronic payment service provider in Oman, Bank Muscat merchant outlet network has grown to over 9,000 with more than 14000 POS terminals deployed across the country to support e-payment and continues to expand rapidly.