Visa Everywhere Initiative applications now open to Oman fintech startups

 Applications are now open in Oman for the Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain edition of the 2024 Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI), a global open innovation program and competition that sees fintech startups pitch their solutions to solve tomorrow’s payment and commerce challenges.In addition to equity-free funding, VEI winners gain access and exposure to Visa’s vast networks of partners in the banking, merchant, venture capital, and government sectors. The winners also benefit from receiving recognition from one of the world’s most trusted and valuable brands.With applications open until April 22nd , this year’s Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain edition of VEI will see an in-person competition for finalists from all three countries in mid-June in Riyadh. The winner will progress to a virtual Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA) competition on July 17th. The startup that wins at the CEMEA finale will participate in the global finale – competing against winners from Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and North America – at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco on October 29th, 2024.For fintech participants in Oman, this year’s edition of VEI brings back the Impact Prize, which goes to a competitor who has innovated a solution that has a positive social impact on the communities it operates in. Examples include initiatives that boost financial inclusion, promote sustainability, or safeguard the environment. Last year, Saudi-based fintech Lamaa won the Impact Prize for providing SMBs with technological, financially inclusive embedded finance and payment solutions.This year’s edition also introduces the Fintech Innovating in Risk Excellence, or ‘FIIRE’ award which goes to innovative fintech specialized in fraud management, cybersecurity, and credit risk, among others.“The Visa Everywhere Initiative is a powerful platform that empowers and uplifts fintechs and entrepreneurs to showcase the most ground-breaking, impactful solutions solving tomorrow’s challenges in the world of payments and commerce. We are delighted to bring VEI back again for a second year to Oman,” said Manish Gautam, Visa’s Country Manager for Oman.“Fintechs have the potential to offer broad social benefits to the markets they operate in – particularly when it comes to providing financial services to those who have traditionally been underserved. At Visa, we believe access to the digital economy drives equitable, inclusive growth, and VEI is an important means of supporting the growth journey of fintechs in Oman – helping them take small but significant steps towards making an impact.”The program first launched in the US in 2015 and quickly expanded into a global program. To date, nearly 15,000 startups have participated, and have collectively raised over OMR18.4B ($48B USD) in funding. VEI 2023 saw Nigeria’s Drugstock take home the VEI global grand prize of OMR19,200 ($50,000 USD), as well as the Audience Favorite prize of OMR3,800 ($10,000 USD).

65% of Oman retailers see revenue boost from digital payments: Visa study

Oman: According to a study by Visa, a world leader in digital payments, 65% of Oman retailers merchants claimed increased revenue and higher customer footfall from accepting digital payments.The independent study, titled 'Value of Acceptance', explores merchants’ attitudes towards digital payments and the impact of digital commerce on small businesses and retailers in Oman.  The survey gathered insights from two groups of Oman-based merchants - those who have accepted digital payments for 1-4 years, and retailers who exclusively deal in cash transactions. The top five store types represented in the survey sample include quick service restaurants, mobile shops, cafes, beauty salons/barber shops, and fashion/shoe stores with sizes including nano (2 or less employees), micro (3-10 employees) and small (11-49 employees) businesses. According to the study, digital payments, and cash together account for over 95% of payments accepted among surveyed digital payment-accepting small businesses, with an equal proportion coming from both payment methods.Digital Payments: Business Growth DriverThe findings from Visa’s study show digital payment acceptance is an important driver in the growth of small businesses, with 54% of digital payment-accepting merchants claiming acceptance of payment through card and mobile wallets is an essential investment that significantly contributes to their business growth.  Seventy-eight percent (78%) of digital payments-accepting merchants would even recommend digital payments to cash-only merchants.Challenges with Cash Only Acceptance While cash is associated with convenience, wide acceptance and easy refunds, more than 20% of cash-only merchants have lost a transaction because the customer was not carrying cash. Beyond acceptance, managing cash also presents accounting challenges according to almost one-third (28%) of cash-only merchants (as well as 38% of merchants that accept digital payments).  As a result, 41% of cash-only merchants surveyed may or will invest soon in digital payment technology so they can begin to offer consumers a better payment experience. Forty percent (40%) of these merchants expect increased footfall and revenue after they start accepting digital payments.Manish Gautam, Visa’s Country Manager for Oman, said: “As Oman forges ahead with its digital commerce agenda, our 'Value of Acceptance' study underscores the transformative power of digital payments for Oman’s retail sector. There remains significant opportunity in Oman for digital commerce and we will continue to work with our local partners to support the government’s cashless agenda for the benefit of small businesses and the wider economy.”Gautam added: “Beyond the benefits of security, speed, and convenience, digital payments also provide invaluable data insights. With more consumers turning to digital payments, merchants can use data to tailor client communication with relevant offers, implement loyalty programs, and enhance the overall customer experience. This is vital information that can increase business profitability and efficiency.”Merchant Expectations of Digital Payment ProviderMerchants that already accept digital payments expect a range of value-added services from their digital payments provider to enhance their payment infrastructure and offerings for customers. The most frequently cited include: (i) more secure (74%), convenient (66%), and efficient (66%) B2B payments; and (ii) access to data for identifying and targeting customer groups (66%). Additionally, multi-currency processing (30%), mobile payment acceptance (like Visa’s Tap to Phone) (27%), and fraud detection and prevention (17%) were revealed as areas where payment providers can further add value to local businesses.