With margins under pressure and global macroeconomic uncertainty persisting for now, Oman’s most successful banks will likely be those that embrace technology and adopt digital solutions to overcome disruption caused by Covid-19, according to KPMG’s third annual Oman Banking Perspectives report.
The pandemic has underscored a need for tremendous interconnectivity. Many banks are keen to digitalise their customer experience, services and products and expand beyond traditional bricks-and-mortar service models. Yet profound industry challenges remain, driven largely by rapidly evolving customer expectations and increasing regulatory scrutiny.
According to the report, the standing of Omani banks in the international market remains strong, regardless of potential geopolitical uncertainty. The Central Bank of Oman (CBO) announced a comprehensive incentive package to inject additional liquidity of more than RO 8 billion ($20.78 billion) into the economy. However, there are some headwinds: containing costs remains a prime concern in a volatile market as banks face significant top-line pressure on cost-to-income ratios.
Looking to the future, the report notes a renewed focus on open, connected banking, with data leveraged to drive business growth. ‘Banking the ecosystem,’ where customers can access several services in a single integrated experience, may represent the cornerstone of digital banking in the future – improving customer satisfaction and boosting revenue streams.
Kenneth Macfarlane, Partner in Charge for KPMG in Oman, commented: “Our report highlights that digitalization is reshaping jobs across the financial sector, which may boost demand for rapid upskilling. While regulatory bodies are advocating cybersecurity as a priority, progressive banks are recognizing that it requires strategic development and for the business to take ownership, beyond mere technological innovation. Banks are also using third parties to facilitate technology implementation with the goal of decreasing costs, improving customer experience, and enhancing their competitive edge.”
As the report notes, banks in Oman are also beginning to embrace blockchain, which offers benefits including operational efficiencies, reduction of intermediary costs and a culture of transparency, without the traditional potential risk of inaccurate information transfer.
Oman is committed to aligning with international best practices to combat cross-border tax evasion. Amidst this wave of regulatory reform, the report highlights the equal importance of robust corporate governance and effective talent management. Introducing corporate culture reviews could be a challenging but important step to transforming culture into a carefully managed strategic asset, the report states.