Muscat: Oman Arab Bank (OAB) announced the launch of the first-of-its-kind Innovation Lab in the banking sector at a press conference. The event was held with Rashad Al Musafir, CEO of OAB and other members of the bank’s executive management in attendance.
Commenting on the launch of the Innovation Lab, Rashad Al Musafir said "We are extremely proud to be creating a facility that further supports His Majesty’s vision and Oman’s national agenda to drive innovative thinking, develop local talent and promote entrepreneurship. The design of the Innovation Lab was inspired by two of the best innovation labs in the world, Barclay’s Rise Lab in London, UK, and the Harvard Innovation Lab in Massachusetts, US. The Innovation Lab will host a myriad of opportunities by providing access to one-to-one mentoring, specialised workshops, and industry experts for local students, OAB staff and local, regional, and international Fintech companies.”
The Innovation Lab occupies a floor at the OAB headquarters and is aimed at driving innovative thinking in a collaborative space and further develop Oman's knowledge-based economy. This ideology was also reinforced in the royal speech of His Majesty Haitham bin Tarik when addressing the people of Oman, wherein he said, “Our government will follow up progress in various sectors, including small and medium enterprises, and entrepreneurship, particularly those based on innovation, artificial intelligence, and advanced technology. This is in addition to training and enabling youth to benefit from the opportunities made available in this vital sector so that it could form a cornerstone in the national economy.”
The development of the Innovation Lab is aimed at empowering local talent and entrepreneurs to become viable contributors to the evolution of Oman’s economy through the power of innovation and the spirit of collaboration.
As part of its transformational journey, OAB began the development of various innovative products in line with its efforts to become a more customer-centric bank. The launch of the largest hackathon in the banking industry, the Innovation Hub, was organised last year and it became one of the most distinctive events in Oman. The event in 2019 brought together over 350 participating individuals, far exceeding the initial goal of 200. The initiative encompasses several activities before the competition's date to ensure adequate preparation for all participants. These include roadshows for students across all universities and colleges in the Sultanate and training workshops for both student and staff teams run by the Bank at the Head Office, where participants were provided with a brief introduction to Open Banking, ideation and design thinking workshops, developing proof of concepts, presentation skills and much more.
Leen Al Atassi, Head of Innovation at OAB, commented, "The Innovation Hub was created to encourage innovative thinking and further develop our knowledge-based economy by empowering local fintech companies and professionals, students and our OAB employees to contribute to the evolution of the banking sector. We spent the last few months putting together a spectacular programme designed to accelerate innovation across the industry and chart the future, to unleash the power of Open Banking and create new customers experiences, revenue models and industry ecosystems. However, given the current situation surrounding the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and following the decision that was made by the Ministry of Health regarding the postponement of events in the Sultanate due to public health measures, the Innovation Hub 2.0 has been rescheduled and a new date will be communicated in due course. OAB management holds health and safety at the highest priority and strives to ensure the well-being of everyone.”
“Nevertheless, all registered participants will automatically be registered for the upcoming event, without having to go through the registration process again. This will provide participants, with more time to prepare their ideas, seek guidance and advice, further allowing the event to be more inclusive with an exciting line-up of speakers and activities, and making it even bigger and better for everyone involved,” Leen added.