Khalid Saad, chief executive officer of Bahrain Fintech Bay said the country is open to working with India and is in talks with various companies in the region.
Bahrain, the fastest growing economy in the Gulf region, is looking to collaborate with industry leaders and experts from across the world to drive innovation and create opportunities for growth. One of its recent initiatives is the launch of the Bahrain FinTech Bay, earlier this year has seen significant interest from companies within the region and also established players from abroad.
Khalid Saad, chief executive officer of Bahrain Fintech Bay said that digital transformation is placing increasing pressure on financial services, and the need for organisations to evolve and offer new solutions is growing exponentially. Hence the initiative comes as a drive to create the region’s leading startup ecosystem, with the Central Bank of Bahrain last year introducing a regulatory sandbox, which enables businesses to test new products and services for scalability before bringing them to the wider GCC market.
Located in Bahrain Bay at the heart of Manama, the FinTech Bay is a collaboration between the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and Singapore’s FinTech Consortium (FTC). It boasts 10,000 square feet of space, with co-working spaces, incubation centers, research labs and workstations. The organization’s founding partners, who include a number of world-class financial services and technology experts, are working closely to provide increased value for customers across MENA and the world.
The EDB of Bahrain has been taking several steps in recent years with a vision to transform the financial powerhouse of the Gulf region into a leader in digital economy. It provides a co-working space with access to incubation, venture acceleration and educational and training programmes to support scalable fintech initiatives. Government agencies such as Bahrain Development Bank and Tamkeen as well as a few private investors have provided financial and tech support to startups.
Saad said that in the coming months the FinTech Bay will launch a $100 million fund dedicated to the thriving fintech sector. The fund to be raised by the private sector and would be a major effort in developing the funding ecosystem for the high growth sector of Bahrain.
Saad sees immense potential in digital banking and payment solutions in the region and believes that technologies such as cloud, big data and analytics, Artificial intelligence and Blockchain would be the cornerstone for fintech development in the region and all this would require tremendous international collaboration and cooperation.
Saad said the country is also open to working with India and is in talks with various companies in the country. He also sees developments in other regional centres such as Dubai and Abudhabi as complementary rather than being competitive.
On developing skillsets, Saad said that the FinTech Talent Program supports Bahrain FinTech ecosystem by ensuring that candidates have the relevant skill-set and knowledge to capitalize on the new disruptive opportunities in the market.
“This program will help create new jobs, as well as provide the expertise required to excel in today’s dynamic job market. Saad said “We are offering internship and mentoring opportunities to candidates. This includes organizing programs and events and also setting up accelerator programs and incubation centers.”
Khalid Al Rumaihi, CEO, EDB and Chairman of Executive Board of BFB said in a recent report titled: “Bahrain Fintech Ecosystem Report 2018″: “With Amazon Web Services predicting that 10,000 data solution architects will be needed across the region in the next 5 years, around 2,500 young Bahrainis have already signed up for AWS Educate training programs.”
According to him, “For decades, Bahrain has embraced the changes bought by technology. With our firm commitment across the government and private sector to further increase dynamism, creativity and innovation. We are confident that the kingdom will continue to strengthen its position as a fintech leader – regionally and globally.”