Oman Arab Bank has achieved impressive results in 2019 despite the challenges brought on by global economic conditions and strong competition at a local level. The net profit of the Bank for 2019 of OMR 32.5 Million grew by 8% from 2018 supported by a healthy growth of 8% in Net interest income and the non-interest income increased by 6%. The operating expenses have been controlled with a nominal increase of 4% year-on-year while the net impairment provision increased by 12%. The Bank maintains a comfortable level of liquidity under tight market conditions with net loans to deposits ratio of around 100%. The Capital Adequacy at 15.20% as at 31 Dec-19 is well above the minimum regulatory requirement of 12.625%. The Bank is planning to increase additional capital during 2020.
OAB’s strategy is to enhance the customer experience through innovative solutions and alliances delivered by capable employees. We adopted the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) for the enterprise with a clear roadmap to execute the strategic initiatives. Agile Centers of Excellence have been set up in the Bank to promote the new work culture and deliver the strategic objectives at a regular cadence.
The Retail Banking Group accomplished an impressive performance throughout the year, keeping pace with technological progress and enhancing overall customer experience. The ‘Partner for Life’ concept was launched to let customers know that we are here to cater to their various needs both online and offline. The enhancement of digital banking channels with biometric login, Tap and Cash ATMs, integration with service providers for payments, feature to donate and instant reward redemption on PoS terminals across Oman offer a wider range of services to our customers. The launch of the apps- OAB Rewards, Gifti and Robosaver are part of our ‘Step to Future’ campaign in providing the customers greater choice in shopping and sharing the rewards. The automation of loan processing through the E-loans and E-cards has reduced the Turnaround Time significantly for the customers. The revamped Hassad Prize scheme of OAB with Save & Win monthly cash prize and campaign of 100 winners per month aims to provide a greater chance of reward for the customer.
We have reached out to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through specialised workshops in Muscat, Salalah, Sur and Sohar to help them manage their business activities more efficiently. Over 100 entrepreneurs and business owners from attended these workshops across the country. The Bank signed a deal to finance the SME Development Fund, which in turn will support SME sector. The Bank has also participated in financing some of large projects in the hospitality and manufacturing industries in Oman. Our Corporate Banking team is working on some innovative products and services, which are planned for launch during early 2020.
We are creating a vibrant workplace that embraces innovation and allows employees to motivate each other for enhanced performance. The HR team have launched various initiatives to promote the positive work culture in line with our emphasis on talent management.
In 2019, 20 employees completed the third edition of Leadership Enhancement and Development program (LEAD) program. The LEAD program aims to develop potential leaders offering them the best-in-class program. We have provided development opportunity to 59 employees since the launch of the program in 2017. We have collaborated with iconic international business schools like Columbia Business School and Wharton Business School in enrolling senior executives for executive and general management programs. During 2019, 280 young Omanis completed their internship programs at OAB, which includes on-the-job training in the branches and departments. We launched Women Mentoring Program to offer opportunities for development and empowering the women employees.
We are proud of the fact that the Bank continues to maintain one of the highest Omanisation rate in the sector at 96%, demonstrating our commitment to the national goals.
Alliances and Synergies
OAB has entered into several strategic alliances for offers and retail acceptance. In 2019, we launched digital insurance service with the largest insurance provider in Oman, who are our main bancassurance partner. Our alliance with major automotive dealers provided us opportunities to provide financing and insurance services to customers. We have signed an agreement with Zubair Small Enterprises Centre for adopting of one of the SME to offer financial support as well as guidance in management.
We have tie-ups with top hotelsfor discounts, rewards redemption and special offers for our Elite customers in addition to the expansion of our PoS network.
OAB signed a strategic memorandum of understanding with Innovation Development Oman SAOC (IDO) to identify and explore potential opportunities for Fintech innovations to be implemented in Oman. The strategic partnership will also facilitate the development of an innovation ecosystem for entrepreneurship in Oman. OAB collaborated with various local educational institutions to complete a nation-wide innovation roadshow that sought to inspire innovative thinking amongst local students.
In 2019, the Bank launched the Innovation Hub, the biggest hackathon in Oman for Fintechs, students and OAB employees. The event saw the participation of over 350 people from various parts of the Sultanate and the region developing their innovative proof of concepts and smart solutions with the support of internal and partner mentors, developers and subject matter experts. The Bank adopted some of these ideas, turning them into minimum viable products that would deliver a superior customer experience.
OAB is well on its way to launch its Innovation Lab, a first-of-its-kind in the Sultanate, inspired by some of the top innovation labs in the world: Harvard’s Innovation Lab and Barclays Rise Lab. The Innovation Lab will provide students, OAB staff and Fintech companies with access to industry experts with mentoring sessions and workshop to stimulate a design thinking approach and create innovative business models. The Bank seeks to establish itself as a hub for innovation that will expand across ecosystems to deliver superior customer experiences.
We at Oman Arab Bank have always believe in integrating social responsibility in our everyday business by participating in several activities and initiatives targeting the various segments of our community. This includes the participation of Bank employees in voluntary activities, encouraging a community-focused culture at all levels. The Bank’s social activities are presented in the CSR section of this report. I am also pleased to highlight that towards the end of 2019, Oman Arab Bank has successfully finalized its new sustainability strategy. Our aim is to enhance the sustainability of our social contributions, by focusing our efforts on the environment, community partnerships and financial inclusion moving forward. We take pride in contributing to the development of the nation through our engagement with local communities.
The proposed merger with Alizz Islamic Bank (AIB) is under negotiation between the shareholders of the Bank following the completion of due diligence process and this is subject to necessary regulatory approvals. On 31 December 2019, OAB has made an offer to AIB for a swap ratio of 81% -19% for the respective shareholders of OAB and AIB subject to the approval of board of directors and shareholders.
I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to all our customers for their confidence in us over the years. I also like to thank the OAB family, who are the cornerstone of our incredible achievements. Together, we look forward to another year of success.