Over 320 Participate in OAB’s Innovation Hub Competition
Oman Arab Bank (OAB), in line with its objective to accelerate its innovation journey and drive innovative thinking within the community, recently hosted ‘The Innovation Hub’ event. The 24-hour innovation platform saw the participation of over 70 teams, totalling over 320 participants, each of whom developed proof of concepts based on predefined themes. The winning team from each of the three categories – ‘Students’, ‘Professionals’, and ‘OAB Staff’ – will now join the Bank’s recently launched ‘Innovation Lab’, which will act as an accelerator of these winning innovations and further drive their development and implementation. The Innovation Hub event took place at the Bank’s Headquarters in Al Ghubrah on January 25,2019, over the course of 24 hours, and was attended by HH Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al Said, Rashad Al Zubair, Chairman of OAB, Eng. Yousuf Al Harthy, CEO of Oman Technology Fund, and the Bank’s CEO, Rashad Al Musafir, together with other members of the Bank’s Executive Management and Staff.
The event began in the morning on January 25, starting with the registration process and a short orientation for the participants. This was followed shortly by an opening speech by Rashad Al Musafir, who said, “Our world today is moving very fast, faster than we can ever imagine. Competition is fierce and technology is developing at a very rapid pace. Artificial intelligence, automated learning, Internet of things, automation of processes, Blockchain, big data are all headlines of the next wave of changes in the business world and specifically in banks. The economy as a whole is based on knowledge and those who possess it will be able to control and lead these changes. We are aiming for our Innovation Hub platform to be the starting point on this path, one that should lead to more sustainable growth for the sector within the Sultanate.”
Aimed at students, professionals and employees, this initiative was developed to empower local talent and entrepreneurs to become viable contributors to the evolution of our economy through the power of innovation and the spirit of competition. The themes of the Innovation Hub were Youth banking, superior customer experience, digital economy and payments, and an open category for other innovative ideas. The initiative encompassed several activities prior to the competition date itself including roadshows for students and training workshops for participating student and staff teams by the Bank’s partners at the Head Office.
Following the CEO’s speech, the attendees were there given a presentation on Global Digital Banking Trends by the guest speaker, Arnold Gutmann, Senior Executive Partner at Gartner. Shortly thereafter, at 01:00 pm, the 24-hour competition started.
Commenting on the platform, Leen Al Atassi, Head of Innovation at OAB said, “This initiative was aimed at providing the participating teams of OAB employees, young students from various universities and colleges, and professionals, including start-ups, fintechs, and IT professionals, the opportunity to develop new and sustainable solutions within the banking and financial sector. It was also aimed at reinforcing OAB’s position as an enabler and accelerator of innovative ideas and platforms in the sector. This is just the beginning, and we look forward to working closely with our short-listed teams to develop these innovations in our first-of-its-kind innovation lab in the Sultanate.”
The Innovation Hub, over the course of the 24-hour competition period, and under the guidance and support of a dedicated Mentoring Panel, comprising senior members of the Bank’s staff and management, the teams developed each of their innovative ideas. In addition, the event also included a number of recreational activities, including an evening performance by ‘Flat 25’ and a Poetry Night in a dedicated ‘Chill Out Zone’, PlayStation competitions, graffiti by a local artist, and many other games and activities.
The competition came to a close at 01:00 pm on January 26, following which the final ideas were presented to the judge’s panel, which comprised a team of industry experts.
The Award ceremony announcing the winners was hosted later the same day at the Bank’s Headquarters. Coming out on top in the ‘Students’ category was team ‘One Last Time’, with special commendation given to the team ‘Technovators’ for the most creative idea. Winning the ‘Professionals’ category was ‘Connected Solutions’. Last but not least, was the winner of the ‘OAB Staff’ category, which was a team comprised of staff from various departments within the Bank. The awards were presented to the winning teams by Rashad Al Zubair and the CEO. These three winning teams will now be inducted into the Bank’s ‘Innovation Lab’, to develop their ideas further so that they may be implemented.
Congratulating the winning teams, Leen said, “Each and every team that participated developed and presented some truly innovative and inspirational ideas. This event was a showcase of the latent talent and skill of both students and professionals in Oman and what they are capable of achieving in just 24 hours. Ultimately, however, there could only be one winner per category. On behalf of OAB, I would like to congratulate each of the three teams on their victory. It was truly well deserved and we look forward to working more closely with them in further developing their ideas in our Innovation Lab.”
In addition, the winning student team also received a cash prize and will be presented with an opportunity to work on their innovations as part of a paid internship, together with potential opportunities for recruitment. The winning professional team, on the other hand, will be entered into a signed partnership agreement with OAB to develop and implement their idea within the Bank. While members of the winning OAB staff team will be presented with special incentives and opportunities for career advancement within the Bank.
“On behalf of every member at Oman Arab Bank, I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to our partners in this journey of innovation – our guest judges Talal Hasan, Growth Venture Investor at IDO, Maha Al Balushi, Managing Director at Oman Tech Fund, and Dr Khalid Tahhan, CEO of Blockchain Society, for their valuable contributions to the success of such a monumental event and for their help in driving innovation in the Sultanate. I would also like to thank our partners – IBM, GBM, ODP, MasterCard, JMR, NCR, Interactive Life, NNTC, NetInfo, Omantel, Oracle, Muscat East and Red Bull,” concluded Rashad Al Musafir.
Oman Arab Bank is one of the first banks to be established in Oman, with a rich and proud history. Today, the bank operates a nationwide network of 65 branches and representative offices and 152 ATMs spread across the Sultanate. OAB provides a complete range of financial products and services for personal banking, corporate and investment clients.
Oman Arab Bank
Oman Arab Bank SAOC was established in 1984 following the acquisition of Arab Bank’s branches in the Sultanate. Over the past three decades, the Bank has consistently expanded its reach as well as its products and services offering to provide customers in the country with a comprehensive suite of innovative solutions in Retail banking, Corporate and Project finance, Investment banking, trade finance and most recently, Islamic Banking.