ID cards not yet functional as bank debit cards

Muscat, Jan 15 – The Royal Oman Police (ROP) has clarified that the use of the national identity card (ID) as a debit card at government health institutions is not possible at this juncture. The clarification comes in response to reports on social media purporting to claim that ID cards can be used to make electronic payments at health centres. With effect from January 1, 2018, all payments made to health institutions run by the Ministry of Health can only be made via bankcards (credit/debit). In response to the reports, the ROP acknowledged that ID cards feature an embedded electronic chip which, when fully activated and operationalised, will enable electronic transactions with government and private sector organisations, provided the system is ultimately hooked up with the Directorate General of Civil Status as well.

Last November, the Ministry of Health announced that all fees and payments to its network of healthcare institutions may be paid only by bankcard with effect from the New Year. This is in line with a broader effort by various ministries and government bodies to use the e-payment route for all financial transactions. In the Wilayat of Al Hamra, some elderly patients unfamiliar with the concept of bankcards and e-payments protested that the new cashless payment system caused them much inconvenience.

However, recognising their dilemma, a group of young, kind-hearted Omanis stepped in to provide the registration desk at the local health centre with a debit card for use whenever patients turned up with cash instead of a bankcard. “We came up with the idea of pooling in some money, and charging a card with this amount. The card was then placed at the disposal of the registration desk at the health centre, with a request that it be used especially when elderly patients could not furnish a bankcard themselves,” said Mohammed Said al Abri, who led the gesture on behalf of the volunteer group.

Mai al Abria