MUSCAT: With effect from January 1, 2022, all commercial transactions at select stores and business establishments will be cashless as part of the Omani government’s drive to promote electronic channels as the principal mode of payment – a key objective of the Oman 2040 Vision.

An announcement to this effect was made by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion on Monday. In a post on social media, the Ministry said the new cashless payment scheme will be rolled out in stages.

Covered in the first phase will be shopping malls, cafes and restaurants, commercial centres, gift markets, jewellery stores, electronic shops, grocery stores, vegetables and fruit sellers, building material shops and outlets in industrial areas. Commercial stores figuring in this list must enable cashless payment services in the form of credit card-readers, (point of sale) POS terminals, and other facilities.

The Ministry noted that it is working with the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) to ensure that the requisite hardware and facilities required by commercial outlets are provided by local banks and service providers without imposing any cost burden on the business community.

Fees for electronic transactions will be regulated by the Central Bank and must not exceed 1.5 per cent of the billed amount where payment is made by credit card. Fees levied on payments made by mobile wallets will be limited to a maximum of 0.75 per cent.

The measure is seen as a big boost to Oman’s rapidly growing epayments and fintech sector, which has capitalised on the burgeoning e-commerce industry to gain traction in the local market. The apex bank, for its part, has been working on the formulation of a robust and comprehensive strategy to support the growth and adoption of financial technology (fintech) services in the Sultanate.

Oman’s fintech strategy, according to the Central Bank, has the potential to fuel, among other things, the roll-out of innovative banking and financial products, promote venture capitalism, drive entrepreneurship and employment generation, and spur economic development in general.

The CBO’s fintech strategy is aimed at establishing a comprehensive fintech ecosystem in Oman to foster and nurture fintech start-ups, SMEs and technology firms besides facilitating the existing players to innovate, develop and offer digital solutions.

Thus, apart from being in the lead in current times, the strategy will also serve as an impetus to our country’s economic growth, open new job opportunities and hopefully attract venture capitalists.

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