MANAMA: Bahrain is home to the largest dedicated fintech hub in the Middle East and Africa, it has emerged.
Launched yesterday, the Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB) is a 10,000 sqft facility and includes a variety of shared infrastructure, such as co-working spaces for up to 30 start-ups or 60 individuals.
Singapore-based fintech incubator Fintech Consortium (FTC), through its subsidiary FinTech Consortium Bahrain, will be responsible for managing the hub, as well as integrating it into its numerous fintech platforms, including blockchain, insurance technology and regulatory technology (regtech).
The hub’s founding partners represent a broad cross section of Bahraini and global financial services and technology industry leaders.
They will collaborate with BFB working with established industry leaders and new entrants from Bahrain, the region and around the world to drive innovation and create opportunities for growth.
International start-ups already set to gain from the partners’ expertise at the fintech co-working hub include US-based RobustWealth, Offrbox and Sigma Ratings as well as Jordanian start-up Labiba.
Speaking at the opening, Economic Development Board (EDB) chief executive Khalid Al Rumaihi said: “Bahrain FinTech Bay will play a central role in growing the supportive ecosystem that is necessary for innovation to thrive. The facilitation of co-working and incubation, combined with Bahrain’s regulatory sandbox and focus on opening up access to funding, is creating an ideal environment for start-ups and corporates to test and then scale across the region.”
BFB will work with its founding partners to leverage their combined resources and network to identify, prioritise and address industry wide challenges and utilise economics of scale to implement solutions that bring innovation that captures the regional opportunity.
BFB chief executive Khalid Saad said that with the support of founding partners, the hub would look to facilitate collaboration “across borders and between government, corporations and start-ups to accelerate innovation in the financial services sector both here and around the world”.
The founding partners are: Arab Financial Services, Ahli United Bank, Al Baraka Banking Group, Al Salam Bank, American Express, Arcapita, Batelco, BBK, Benefit, BFC, Bahrain Insurance Association, Bin Hindi Group, Bahrain Islamic Bank, BNP Paribas, Cisco, Cork Information Technology, GFH Financial Group, Gulf International Bank, Ithmaar Bank, Investcorp, Kuwait Finance House, Microsoft, National Bank of Bahrain, NEC Payments, PayTabs, Payment International Enterprise, Roland Berger and Tap Payments.
Commenting on the partnership, Investcorp’s co-chief executive Mohammed Al Shroogi, said: “This is a very exciting milestone for Bahrain, as fintech has the potential to dramatically improve financial inclusion for those with limited access or no access to traditional banking and financing products.”
According to him the partnership was an opportunity to combine experience and expertise to harness the growth of fintech start-ups and provide them with the necessary technical and leadership skills to make them successful.