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Bahrain emerging as Fintech hub finds survey

Bahrain Business
Thu, 12 Jul 2018
By Avinash Saxena
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MANAMA: An overwhelming majority (87 per cent) of Bahraini professionals are interested in collaborating or have already collaborated with fintech firms, according to a survey.

The survey that forms the bedrock of the first-ever Bahrain FinTech Ecosystem Report was conducted by the Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB) during the second quarter this year with more than 800 respondents from 24 countries, representing 25 industries.

The report which was released online this week charts Bahrain’s emergence as a fintech hub and explores the drivers behind the sector’s growth to date.

Economic Development Board chief executive and BFB executive board chairman Khalid Al Rumaihi says in the report that it also maps the path forward and the key initiatives that will underpin sustained progress in the future.

“Technology-led innovation has fuelled a wave of disruption across the global economy and in Bahrain, fintech has been a significant driving force behind this transformation,” he adds.

The BFB, the largest fintech hub in the Mena region, started operations this April at the Arcapita Building, with co-working spaces, communal areas, workstations and a research lab.

The report quotes BFB CEO Khalid Saad as saying that the first edition of the annual report looks at key developments in the local fintech ecosystem and sheds light on topics such as adoption of fintech, industry collaborations, the role of regulation and human capital.

Key themes tackled by the survey include collaboration with fintech firms, the role of stakeholders in the ecosystem, the disruptive nature of the industry, and Bahrain’s role as a hub in the Mena region.

The kingdom’s human capital supports the prospect of developing innovative financial solutions, shows the survey with nearly 70pc of young Bahraini respondents saying they are interested in becoming entrepreneurs and 72pc of university students in Bahrain expressing an interest in pursuing a higher education course in fintech.

A substantial number of the respondents both in Bahrain and globally viewed Bahrain (44pc) as a leading fintech hub in the Mena region.

Bahrain’s top attributes as a fintech hub include the enforcement of financial regulations (69pc), financial expertise (67pc), and access to regional markets (61pc).

Furthermore, 54pc of respondents acknowledge Bahrain’s advanced ICT infrastructure. Industry insight suggested that Bahrain’s technological readiness is ranked the highest in the GCC.

Approximately, 71pc of individuals residing in Bahrain viewed the enforcement of financial regulations as strong in Bahrain.

The sentiment appears to be shared globally as 69pc of global respondents supported the view.

As per the survey, 67pc of individuals residing in Bahrain believe regulations will support the enhancement of the fintech industry.

The greatest challenge for fintech firms in Bahrain is perceived to be achieving scale and reach (60pc), talent recruitment (50.3pc), and funding (49.3pc).

On average, both international and Bahrain residents revealed their prediction for the top three fintech verticals to grow by 2020 in Bahrain as digital banking, big data analytics and artificial intelligence.