Aadil Al Saadi
Managing director, Mala’a (*) – the national data bank for credit and financial information (OMAN)
The globetrotter is the one among the many who has been totally hit by the COVID-19 Corona virus. Especially the ones who are mentally, physically, spiritually inclined to just grab a trolley bag or backpack or suitcase in one hand and clutch passport and ticket firmly in the other and are seen rushing towards a flight that would take them off to some destination, the newer the better! They are the kind that are perennially restless and want to just get up and go, fly out to somewhere new!
Before we get around to the point whether the bigger worry for such globetrotters should be about losing their jobs or getting their salaries drastically cut, they would point out that the biggest blow for them would be to find their travel plans suddenly scuttled until further notice, which is what is happening now!
The COVID-19 has totally capsized global travel and has brought the world to a standstill. And the ramifications of that go beyond being held back in a country and not allowed to travel. Several million aviation jobs to nearly 100 million travel and tourism jobs are at risk. And, this could be the first time in history that majority of the world’s population who wants to travel find themselves stuck either in their home countries or countries where they have travelled to before the advent of the COVID-19.
Readjust mental compass
And if you ask me about how this COVID-19 has changed my life, I will say that for a globetrotter like myself, it has put me into a situation where I am forced to readjust my mental compass to pause, reflect and explore how to keep a positive mindset while staying at home and adjust to my daily workout routine.
Not much impact on the business
On the professional front, there wasn’t much impact on Mala’a’s operations given that we are a paperless organisation and use only digital tools. Therefore, working from home, online collaboration etc., are all part and parcel of our work culture. However, what has changed is finding ways and means to keep the human engagement among different teams virtually through online, such as monthly staff gathering, weekly team online calls and simply calling staff once in a while to check on them!
Blessings of COVID-19
While we may rant and rave against the bad COVID-19 fallout, we must not forget to highlight the good in this gloom of a virus-hit world. Some of the blessings of COVID-19 include challenging the status for resistance to allow work from home using secured digital channels. Another positive impact is the rapidly changing consumer behaviour and pattern, which today has a bigger emphasis on saving and seeking various measures to help in proper household financial stability.
It is expected that more government and private sectors will allow certain job functions to be performed from home using a secured digital channel.
Challenges in the aftermath of Covid-19
Now, when we analyse the main challenges that the world would face in the aftermath of the COVID-19, we will find that it is inevitable that certain sectors will be adversely impacted due to global recession caused by the crisis including but not limited to aviation, tourism, oil and gas and retails.
Despite the payments, different measures announced by regulations to date, it is expected to witness an increase in non-performing loans in the credit market in Oman.
Opportunity of a lifetime
We should embrace and adapt to living with the new norm. It is an opportunity of a lifetime to review how we used to do things, how many electronic-secured services were coupled down by complex legacy business norms. Most importantly, it is time to make a paradigm shift to a digitally seamless process-centric service in B2B, B2C and B2G.
Adjustments to business plan
If you ask me if there would be a shift in the objectives of Mala’a post COVID-19, I will say not really. There might be some adjustments to our business plan, but Mala’a has adopted a three-year strategy, which has been centered around digital integrations and digital channels with focus on instant credit scoring and deciding platforms connecting lenders with borrowers through mobile platforms.
(*)Mala’a initiative is the deliverable of an ambitious three-year strategy for the Oman Credit Bureau (OCB), spearheaded by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO). It is the first pillar of the Central Bank of Oman’s Strategy 2019-2021.
Mala’a initiative is the first pillar of the CBO initiative to establish a cross-sector national databank that will empower Oman to transform into a knowledge-based economy nation thus achieving financial inclusions objectives and enabling access to credit.
Aadil Al Saadi is a Sloan Fellow Strategist from London Business School, with expertise in consulting, digital transformation, FinTech Solutions and Payment Infrastructure and proven experience in regulatory banking, business consulting and strategy planning and execution.