OTN introduces online payment to Oman

Oman TradaNet teams with eCompany to incorporate online settlement into its electronic data exchange interchange and add the missing 10% to its offering.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  August 26, 2004

|~|andrewinside.jpg|~|Andrew Stafford, chief executive officer at OTN. |~|Etisalat’s new e-business arm, eCompany, has partnered with Oman TradaNet (OTN) to offer its technology solutions and services portfolio to the Oman market. Taking its lead from the UAE, Oman is opening up its market so that it can diversify its non-oil economy. In terms of the IT sector, the country plans to strengthen its e-government services. A government convergence network will be launched in November. “We believe it is essential to have a presence in the e-commerce and e-solutions sector in Oman, as more local companies will adopt these tools to enhance their competitiveness and reach out to the rest of the region,” comments Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, general manager at eCompany. Under the terms of the contract, OTN will be responsible for the marketing of eCompany’s e-commerce services based on a central commission structure, with revenues generated from cross-selling opportunities to OTN’s 2500 customers and Omani businesses. “So far we’ve been talking about moving standard business documents over the internet. The deal with eCompany fills in the missing element of payment. This closes the whole loop, which we didn’t offer before. We already deliver 90% of the supply chain. With the payment systems in place, we will be able to do the remaining 10%,” says Andrew Stafford, chief executive officer at OTN. The partnership also marks the expansion of eCompany, which tries to work with other regional players, rather than going direct to market. “Instead of setting up our offices across the region, we have adopted a partner led strategy for the geographical expansion of our services suite,” says Julfar. “OTN knows the Oman market and has operated there for a long time. It has many corporate and public sector organisations as its clients. [The company] has also established an e-commerce infrastructure that can facilitate and support the electronic exchange of trade transactions and documents,” he adds. The transaction fees collected by traditional electronic data interchange (EDI) networks cost anywhere between US$15 to US$38 dollars per megabyte of data transferred. A company that requires a high volume of data transfer with an extensive supplier network can spend several million dollars annually on EDI. By offering similar services that cost under US$5, OTN has taken the traditional EDI type connectivity through an exchange and transformed it into collaborative commerce via the internet. The ix2 exchange in Oman and the complementary procurement solution, iX2 are both operated by Oman TradaNet and moves over 30,000 procurement documents per month. OTN hopes that by facilitating the payment transaction, the company can boost its bottom line, as well as increase the value it offers users. “For OTN, it’s about offering a value-added service to its customers. The more people that use OTN exchange, the better it is for us,” says Stafford. OTN, which started operations in February 2001, says the eCompany partnership couldn’t have happened earlier due to market maturity. The B2B player believes the deal received an impetus after Oman Central Bank announced plans to roll out a national payment gateway and realtime gross settlement system (RTGS) towards the Q4 and Q1 of 2005. “Earlier, the Omani market wasn’t ready for it, but now the country is moving towards the acceptance of electronic payments. This deal will put us in good stead, and positions us well to capitalise on that. A year ago or even earlier, it would have been a waste of resources and time, both for eCompany and for OTN. Now we are ready for e-payments, and Oman is getting ready for it too,” says Stafford. ||**||

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