Outlook 2018: Digitization Will Continue in the Regional Financial Industry

Niranj Sangal, the Group CEO at OMA Emirates, speaks to Channel Post about how 2017 was for the company and what they expect from 2018

Niranj Sangal, the Group CEO at OMA Emirates.

What were the major technology and market trends in 2017?
As a part of the payments industry, we have been seeing a sharp move towards digitization. Be it the financial industry where banks are making way for a much more convenient, safer and seamless customer experience, and within other industries such as retail, transport, entertainment, etc, there is also greater awareness of the new and innovative payment options.

Many of them are opting to provide Mobile and Unattended payment systems that are beneficial not just for the consumers, but brings in far more cost effective and highly advanced systems for payment processing and analysis. And we are also witnessing a surge in Blockchain technology across industries such as finance and healthcare.

Do you believe any technology buzzwords from 2017 will really kick-off in 2018?
Yes, we believe that Mobile and Unattended payment solution implementations will see a very sharp growth in 2018. In 2017 we have had several opportunities to work with leading retail companies, the entertainment industry, parking facilities, transport as well as hospitality in these areas. Our estimate is that many other such companies are in the process of evaluating the business implications of the solutions and we are certain that they will follow suit.

How has 2017 been for your company and business?
OMA Emirates has introduced new services as well as implemented several projects which have helped the company move into new and uncharted avenues. The OMA Emirates Benefit Beyond platform which was previously focused only on being a loyalty card now has several new services added on to the platform and provides customers with a wider range of end user benefits. The new and enhanced offering includes gift cards, prepaid cards and an easy to use mobile application.

Did you enter / expand your operations into new markets in 2017?
The company has seen very strong opportunities in the South East Asian countries. Well planned marketing efforts in 2017 have seen the entry into some of these countries and have strong prospects for 2018.

How do you foresee opportunities for 2018?
2018 is poised to be a year wherein there will be greater awareness as well as usage of Artificial Intelligence not just within the financial sector, but will cut into many more business sectors. There is will be a greater need to move into data usage with higher emphasis on data analysis, insights as well as applications.

We also envisage Mobility payment solutions gaining ground especially in a world where consumers are paramount.  These will include both In-store and Out-of-store Mobile POS, e-Commerce and Food and Beverage delivery, On-board transportation and ticketing POS, etc. OMA Emirates has been quick to respond to the market needs and has developed several innovative and easy to use applications that will enhance the solution and service offerings in the Mobility space.

On the other hand, digitization will encourage the use of non-card real time payments as well as cross border transactions. Alongside, the region is poised to gain ground with many global as well as local start-ups working towards Blockchain technology and is being looked into not just the financial sector but is making inroads into healthcare, insurance, etc.

What sort of strategies do you have in place for 2018?
The opportunities ahead are immense with growing markets for payment services and solutions. OMA Emirates is focused on continuing to tap into new business sectors with homegrown solutions and moving towards a cashless society.

Our vendor partners have been introducing advanced payment terminals and we hope to be in a strong position to create awareness and deliver 360 degree implementations with hardware, software as well as provide Managed Services. We are also working towards exploring Blockchain technology capabilities for payments, enhancing our existing digital payment solutions especially for faster remittances.

Will you be investing more in terms of expansion of your market reach, channel programs and general marketing?
OMA Emirates has already been working on the geographical expansion plans. Besides the entry into India in 2016, our marketing efforts for 2017 were focused on South East Asia. Participation in well targeted B2B exhibitions in Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines have proved to be very successful in creating business opportunities.

Expansion plans for 2020 include entry into 25 countries through foreign investments. Acquisitions in Africa, Eastern-Europe and APAC helps merge technologies for enhanced solution offerings.