Oman launched its mobile-based real-time payments system called Mobile Payments Clearing & Settlement System (MPCSS, also known as MPClear) in July 2017. Although all the banks and payment service providers support the system, its exclusivity to mobile phones and low transaction limit are hindering the growth of real-time payments.
The high preference towards paper-based payments among Omanis has also limited real-time payments growth. As a result, real-time payments accounted for just a 1.1% share of the total payments transaction volume in 2021. However, the government’s push towards electronic payments, increasing awareness and improving payments infrastructure will support real-time payments volume to grow at 41.0% CAGR from 2021-2016.
Real-Time Payment Types
Year of Real-Time
Recent years have seen a flurry of activity in Oman’s digital payments space, with new platforms, solutions and networks that aim to integrate payments more deeply with people’s lives. Consumers and businesses alike have responded well to services that help them retain control over finances while reducing friction, not least in a world where the pandemic boosted demand for contactless payment.
Although real-time payments are not there yet, the CBO’s introduction of MpClear continues to provide opportunities for modernization. The mobile payments clearing scheme was the first of its kind in the GCC region. It enables interoperability and unified switching and clearing services among mobile wallets and banking services operated by various banks in the Sultanate. Although there was initially relatively little innovation during early adoption, MpClear is now being used for low-value P2P transfers that also enables POS acquiring.
The latter is achieved through the dynamic generation of a QR code on the POS, scanned using the Bank Muscat mobile app. Payment is then pushed to the merchant account as a P2P. Although a good step toward real-time transformation, this is a low-volume, wallet-to-wallet system with a low payments limit. It is unclear at this time whether the CBO will implement full real-time rails, unlike others in the region, with the organization appearing happy with what it has today in MpClear.
Such a stance impacts the wider industry since everything in Oman’s financial system revolves around what the central bank does. If the CBO is reluctant to boost transformation, opportunities for innovation are limited. But there are still some openings for fintechs, such as enabling WhatsApp Pay. What’s needed now is for the great potential in Oman to be realized, through banks gaining access to flexible, modern, agile systems that support and accelerate modernization and keep pace with the rapidly evolving demands of Oman’s increasingly sophisticated banking population.
Real-Time Total Participants
All Domestic Banks and PSPs
Population Banking Level
Number of debit, credit and
charge cards per adult
Index to global average
F5 Yr CAGR
Share of Volumes by Payments Instrument
- Paper-based payments
- Electronic payments
- Real-time payments
Real-Time Payments Volume and Its Share in Overall Non-Paper-Based Transactions, 2015-26f
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