MANAMA: A week-long series of activities is lined up later this month to explore disruptive innovation in financial services, the Economic Development Board (EDB) announced yesterday.
The first Fintastic Bahrain Week from February 19-21 will bring together around 700 international and regional financiers, economists, investors, bankers and policy makers to discuss and debate challenges and future opportunities for the global financial sector, and what this means for the GCC, with a primary focus on innovations like fintech, blockchain, artificial intelligence and big data, it said.
The return of the seventh annual GCC Financial Forum, co-hosted by Euromoney Conferences and EDB, will form the backbone of the week, taking place on the February 20-21 at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay.
Economic Development Board chief executive Khalid Al Rumaihi said: “The financial services industry is facing an exciting period of disruption, which brings both challenges and opportunities globally.
“Bahrain is positioned at the heart of this opportunity in the GCC, with well-established financial institutions and onshore regulatory frameworks able to anticipate and respond to this fast-evolving sector.
Just as we set the global benchmark for Islamic banking regulation, today the kingdom’s regulatory sandbox is creating new inroads for innovation, enabling FinTech firms to test and experiment new banking ideas and solutions. Fintastic Bahrain Week presents an important moment to share insights from Bahrain, the GCC and around the world to help shape the future of the sector.”
High profile speakers are converging for the GCC Financial Forum, part of Fintastic Bahrain Week, include former Bank of England Governor and economist Lord Mervyn King; and Allianz chief economic advisor Mohamed El Erian.
They join prominent voices from Bahrain, including Finance Minister Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa and and Central Bank of Bahrain Governor Rasheed Al Maraj.
Euromoney Conferences Middle East and Africa director Victoria Behn said, “We are honoured to host the GCC Financial Forum in partnership with Economic Development Board for the seventh consecutive year. Under the theme “innovation and the future of financial services”, this year’s conference is uniquely tailored to explore the implications of the continued convergence of finance and technology for the financial services industry in the GCC. With international financiers, senior policymakers and leading fintech firms attending from across the Middle East, the GCC Financial Forum will once again be an unmissable event in the region’s financial calendar.”
According to MAGNiTT 2017 State of Mena Funding report, fintech maintains its position at the top of the investment deal flow, accounting for just below 12pc of all startups deals and valued at $66.6m. The top 3 largest investments from Fintech startups in 2017 include Paytabs ($20m) headquartered in Bahrain, Souqalmal ($10m) and Wahed ($7m).
Fintastic Bahrain Week will conclude with the much-anticipated launch of Bahrain FinTech Bay on February 21, which will offer an exciting glimpse into the region’s largest fintech hub and how it will work with established industry leaders and new entrants from the region and around the world to drive innovation and create opportunities for growth.
The week will also see supporting events take place across the kingdom’s dynamic startup community, including Rowad, a leading Bahrain-based platform which supports investors and young businesses at all stages of the startup journey.
They will be hosting the 9th Rowad Majlis – Cryptechnight 2.0 on the February 19. This fireside chat will highlight FinTech in Bahrain and the wider region.