While mobile banking has come of age, digital payments have still not taken off largely due to the reluctance on the part of the small retailers, who still prefer cash transactions, and the customers due to the absence of widespread availability of these methods.
Jomo Thomas, who was earlier associated with a leading money exchange said, “I remember until 2019, customers had to withdraw cash from the ATM machines and then come to the exchange for remittance. Now, most money exchanges accept card payments directly with or without extra cost. More importantly, customers can directly transfer from their respective account via mobile applications.”
Many retailers were reluctant to accept cards for the extra two per cent charges levied by the banks on transactions and due to the time taken to deposit to be credited in their accounts by the respective bank.
Thawani, was one of the first e-payments solutions to be launched in the Sultanate of Oman.
The app was aimed at making payments for in-store purchases by scanning the retailer’s QR code at the store and completing the payment process. If a retailer is located elsewhere, you can use their registered mobile number to pay regardless of where they may be located.
All leading banks in the Sultanate have their wallet payments, but they have been hampered by the lack of cooperation from the retailers, especially smaller ones.
Last year, the CBO approved the licensing application of OM Pay to provide electronic payment services in Oman, which will offer mobile payment services to consumers and enable merchants to receive payments through its NFC, QR code, point of sale, bank transfer, and online payment gateway offerings.
“I wish the Central Bank of Oman would launch the activate Apple Pay in the Sultanate of Oman and also promote retailers to shift to mobile payments, which will do away with the need for using debit and ATM cards after every purchase. I feel small businesses need cash for daily rolling, but wider use of this facility will do eliminate the use of cash,” said Salim al Kharousi, a frequent traveller to neighbouring countries.
Banking experts argue that it is only a matter of time before the Sultanate joins the rest of the region with mobile payments with some active encouragement from the authorities.