The Business Year

Melika Betley

OMAN - Finance

Melika Betley

CEO, HSBC Bank Oman

Bio

Melika Betley has been with HSBC for 20 years and has international experience from the UK and Middle East region. Before taking the role of the CEO of HSBC Oman, she was CEO of HSBC’s business in Bahrain. She held a number of other senior positions with HSBC in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT) region, including regional head of legal and compliance, CEO of Jordan, and regional head of remediation. Throughout her career, she has led a number of key strategic change programs and has gained extensive experience across all lines of business, as well as operations and technology.

HSBC is able to leverage its global coverage and local market knowledge to support the Omani public and private sectors.

What have been some of your major achievements in Oman over the past year?

One of the greatest achievements through 2020 and 2021 was the resilience that our staff showed in terms of being able to maintain the service for our customers and doing that safely. The disruption caused by the pandemic has been a test of our digital capabilities, the strategy that guides our investments, and the way our people, processes and systems really interact to deliver excellent customer outcomes. Customers would say we passed with flying colors. Curfews, lockdowns, and social distancing meant that at one stage we were working remotely every day. That took far more than a robotic roll-out of long-established and well-rehearsed business continuity plans; the inherently intangible human infrastructure of trust and dependability, collaboration, and commitment really made the difference. We also successfully executed a number of strategic transactions that demonstrate our position as a partner in the government’s development plans, particularly through the roles we have played on all of the Sultanate’s debt issuances during 1H2021, which helps support the economy by tapping the international finance market. As part of our strategy, we want to be the leading bank supporting the economy in transitioning to net zero, and we are also doing this in our own operations and supply chain. In Oman we achieved a major environmental milestone with the installation of a solar energy farm at our head office. The installation will generate 600kW of energy from over 220 solar panel grids placed on the bank’s premises. Digital is a core pillar of our strategy, and that’s why we are developing and deploying some of the industry’s most advanced and innovative technology. We have made several enhancements to our corporate and retail platforms to make banking easier and more secure. In recognition of our efforts, we received the Euromoney Best Cash Management Award (2020), Euromoney Best Trade Finance Bank (2020), and Euromoney Best Investment Bank (2020 and 2021).

What has been your strategy for ensuring availability of financing options for SMEs?

We are in a unique position that enable us to combine our local knowledge and expertise with the HSBC Group’s global international connectivity to support the Omani SME segment with proven business models and connecting them to global network. We recently signed a partnership with the SME Development Fund to provide SMEs in Oman with OMR 5 million in financing. In 2020, we relaunched our business banking model to better connect Oman’s most dynamic and internationally-oriented businesses to the global economy. This service has been designed specifically for Omani SMEs with cross-border trading requirements or an aspiration to grow internationally. We are looking first within our own portfolio for such SMEs—companies that we have not been financing historically but we can now. We also have initiated the C3 Social Impact Accelerator Program at a regional level, and we have participant SMEs from all across the region, including Oman. The program supports the achievement of key milestones in the journey of an entrepreneur and focuses on helping entrepreneurs achieve financial sustainability and solve major social challenges at scale.

How are digital services in the banking sector, especially in Oman, changing?

In the GCC as a whole, we see heavy focus on making payments easier and cheaper. That is really with a view to making banking accessible to all. We launched the HSBCnet Mobile App, giving corporate customers access to their HSBCnet accounts while on the move. In a first for the Oman market, companies can now manage their cash flow and trade finance, and get real-time transaction reporting, from the convenience of their mobile device. Security—as well the investment in technology that makes banking more secure—has already been a growth area, and it will be a key area of focus moving forward. Every industry is now seeing an acceleration in innovation, and the banking sector is no exception.

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