MUSCAT, 15 March 2016 – Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, celebrated the 12th annual Partners in Progress awards ceremony at Sheraton Hotel as merchant partners were honoured for outstanding contributions to card business in 2016. AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive, presented the awards to senior executives of winning institutions and companies covering a total of 36 categories ranging from government services to automobiles, airlines, telecommunications, hotels and hypermarkets.
In recognition of promoting electronic payments in the government sector, the Special Award winners for contributing to growth in card payments were the Royal Oman Police, Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Housing, Muscat Municipality, and Ministry of Regional Municipalities & Water Resources.
The Landmark Group and Carrefour won the Most Outstanding Merchant awards as the Special Merchant Contribution awards were shared by Muscat Duty Free and Oman Investment and Finance Company (OIFC).
Endorsing electronic payment in all parts of Oman, the awards for Best Merchants in Regions were presented to Al Karama Hypermarket, Oman International Container Terminal and Al Badyah Hypermarket. The Best Exchange House in Oman award was won by Global Money Exchange.
The 2016 Partners in Progress (PiP) award winners include Ooredoo (Telecom Operator), Qatar Airways (Airlines), Al Madina Development and Supply (e-Commerce), 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), Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa (5 Star hotels), Crowne Plaza (4 Star hotels), Apparel International (Clothing & Fashion), Lulu Hypermarket (Hypermarket), 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), Bahwan Tourism (Travel and Tourism), Al Danube Building Materials (Building Material and Suppliers) and Oman Oil Marketing Company (Fuel stations).
AbdulRazak Ali Issa said: “Bank Muscat is proud to celebrate the 12-year journey together and joint success with merchant partners. The year 2016 was an exciting as well as challenging period for the bank's Cards and eBanking team as merchant partners recorded a 12 per cent increase in card transaction volumes and merchant outlets network grew by 20 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 2016, the bank further enhanced the electronic payment infrastructure in the country, becoming the first acquirer on Oman's own OmanNet Internet Gateway launched by the Central Bank of Oman. With this, the bank is now able to process transactions on Oman issued debit cards within the country in a state-of-the-art internet gateway system. The bank has also become a part of the OmanNet point of sale (PoS) network, leading to a reduction in PoS service costs.
The bank in partnership with the Royal Oman Police, the Ministry of Manpower and other ministries introduced e-commerce solutions, which have added convenience to citizens and businesses in the country. With the new facility, businesses can now clear all customs payments and manpower fees in their offices without visiting the ministries.
The bank recently launched the Dynamic Currency Payment service which offers tourists visiting Oman the convenience of paying in their home currencies. The service adds significant value and convenience to partners in the hospitality and tourism sectors. The bank has commenced installing the latest 3G and IP PoS solutions to reduce transaction processing time and enhancing the card experience. Transactions are now processed within two seconds with full data security. The bank recently upgraded its core processing systems, network and fraud management capabilities to cater to increasing electronic transactions and ensure uninterrupted service to merchant partners.
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. All the electronic payment initiatives involving significant investments demonstrate the bank's commitment to enhancing the banking experience for all."
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 10,000 with more than 16,000 PoS terminals deployed across the country and 250 e-commerce merchants processing close to 40 million transactions annually.