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No Open Banking

Oman is an Arabian country located in southwestern Asia. Oman has taken a regulatory-driven approach to Open Banking.

96% of Omanis have access to the internet.

Oman has taken a regulatory-driven approach to Open Banking, which is regulated and supervised by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO).

Oman has seen some growth in interoperability in recent years, and for instance, secure interoperability of the systems, was central when designing the operating rules of the mobile payment clearing and switching system.

Oman has a sizeable Sharia-sensitive and unbanked population. In 2017, 44% of Omanis were unbanked. However, the launch of Sharia-compliant banking in 2012 has helped boost financial inclusion, giving an alternative to people who did not want to engage with the interest rate-based banking sector for religious reasons. There are currently 17 licensed foreign and local commercial banks and two Islamic banks in Oman. Islamic banking has continued to grow despite the pandemic.

Oman is drafting an Open Banking API strategy as part of its Fintech framework and roadmap. It comprises several initiatives aimed at establishing and nurturing a comprehensive Fintech ecosystem to stimulate innovation in the financial sector. Some of these initiatives include the introduction of Fintech regulation, the establishment of a regulatory sandbox, the release of a cloud computing framework, as well as initiatives related to electronic know-your-customer (eKYC), Fintech education and virtual assets. 

In the past couple of years, the Central Bank of Oman has taken a number of steps to support the Fintech space and the digital transformation journey in the financial and banking sector. These include easing regulation for Fintech and the provision of payment services, simplifying KYC policy, establishing a Fintech committee and engaging with relevant local stakeholders.

Oman is looking to support its Fintech startups, SMEs, banks, and technology firms as a means to boost the country’s economic growth, create new jobs, and attract venture investments. It is simplifying regulation for Fintech and payment services and introduced a number of ventures to support their growth, the report said.

The country’s Fintech ecosystem will focus on adopting Fintech laws and regulations, developing talent and skills in this space, and supporting education and academia and the Fintech sector, the report added.

In line with these steps to boost the Fintech ecosystem, Bank Muscat launched a $100 million Fintech investment vehicle called BM Innovate in September 2020. Through the fund, the bank aims to create a network of Fintech ecosystems by investing in local and international Fintechs. 

In November 2021, Oman and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of understanding and launched the Saudi-Omani Digital Skills Initiative which includes training programmes in fields such as fintech, data and artificial intelligence.

In December 2020, the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) launched the Financial Regulatory Sandbox, allowing participants to live-test their innovative Fintech solutions in a safe environment under the supervision of the central bank.