No cash, no cards, no passwords: E-payment in Oman

MUSCAT, July 28 – Last week two banks in Oman launched their e-wallets, indicating that future retail trading will be not just cashless, but also cardless. It eliminates the need to remember multiple PINs and passwords.
Cashless transactions is better as physically carrying money is risky. Debit and credit cards have been much safer and convenient but in today’s world of cybercrime, there is always this danger of passwords and personal details getting stolen when shared with cashiers or during online transcactions.
E-wallets offer answer to some of these fears but they are yet to be widely used in Oman, despite adequate Internet penetration. It is an online facility that stores your cash or debit/card details which are used for transactions made online through a computer or a smartphone. An e-wallet needs to be linked with the individual’s bank account to make payments.
“For some time now, I have been using e-wallets for online transactions, but there is not much opportunity otherwise in Oman. Some of the projects have been just announced here,” said Mohan Rajshekaran, an Indian expatriate. “It is now widely accepted in India even by taxis and street vendors. We should see it happen soon here as there is no need to share details for every transaction,” he said.
“With mobile Internet penetration reasonably well in Oman, it will change the way we shop in the next 12 months,” said Abdullah Munim, who frequently travels abroad.
“It will help tourists as they do not have to carry physical cash everywhere and every time,” said Richard who often shuttles between Dubai and Muscat.
An e-wallet is protected with a password. With the help of an e-wallet, one can make payments for groceries, online purchases, and flight tickets.
E-wallet has mainly two components, software and information. The software component stores personal information and provides security and encryption of the data. The information component is a database of details provided by the user which includes their name, shipping address, payment method, amount to be paid, credit or debit card details.
For setting up an e-wallet account, the user needs to install the software on his/her device, and enter the relevant information required. After shopping online, the e-wallet automatically fills in the user’s information on the payment form. To activate the e-wallet, the user needs to enter his password. The consumer is not required to fill the order form on any other website as the information gets stored in the database and is updated automatically.
Bank Muscat says ‘bm Wallet’ is a ‘cash on mobile’ solution that can be used for cash transfers to other mobile wallet users based on mobile numbers and aliases.
The ‘bm Wallet’ app can be accessed on all devices with good Internet connectivity for free.
Customers can avail the mobile wallet app and load them with cash to a maximum limit of RO 300. The loading of mobile wallet can be done through debit ATMs, CDMs, mobile banking and Internet banking.
Bank Dhofar also offers cardless through its mobile banking services. An Omani technology company, Thawani, is also launching an e-wallet platform. To be launched in collaboration with a local bank, the transactions can be done through a QR code. The key safety features are that there is no need to handover the card or share the PIN number on a retailer’s device, according to the company’s founder.

Vinod Nair