Middle East’s FinTech Revolution to be Showcased in Bahrain

The disruptive power of FinTech is being increasingly felt across the Middle East

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Over a thousand delegates from the worlds of business, government and academia will be in Bahrain to learn more about the latest trends in the reinvention of financial services and enjoy keynote speeches from world-renowned speakers. Events will also include best practice workshops for start-ups and fireside conversations with respected FinTech pioneers and leaders.

Fintastic Week will see Bahrain hosting the eighth GCC Financial Forum on 26-27 February, an annual event that has become an increasingly important date for the diary of the region’s FinTech community. Global tech innovator and Apple Computers co-founder, Steve Wozniak, will take centre stage and share his thoughts and predictions on the current and future state of the global financial technology industry. Other notable speakers at event include HE Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance and National Economy; and Louise Beaumont, Co-chair of the Open Banking & Payments Working group, at Tech UK.

Victoria Behn, director of Middle East and Africa at Euromoney Conferences, Co-organisers of the GCC Financial Forum noted: “We are honoured to host the GCC Financial Forum in partnership with the Economic Development Board of Bahrain for the eighth consecutive year. With international financiers, senior regional policymakers and leading fintech firms attending from across the Middle East, the GCC Financial Forum will once again be an unmissable event.”

The disruptive power of FinTech is being increasingly felt across the Middle East as Governments look to diversify their economies and improve productivity through increased uptake of innovation and technology. Such transformation is showing through in the numbers already, with GCC start-ups expected to raise $2 bn of private funding in the next decade, in comparison to only £150m in the previous ten years.

The potential for even greater change is illustrated by the fact that 86% of the MENA population remained unbanked in 2017. This is despite a very high mobile phone penetration rate and more than half the region’s population being under 30. Two factors that would usually help drive the uptake of digital services.

To make the most of the conducive conditions internationally recognised reforms have taken place across the region, such as open banking; regulatory sandboxes; and the updating of regulations to reflect the digitised economy. Bahrain has been at the forefront of these efforts, often collaborating with global partners, including the Global Financial Innovation Network, a coalition of 11 financial regulators including from the UK, US, Hong Kong and Australia seeking to design and implement a global sandbox.

Or, through the region’s first and largest FinTech Incubator, Bahrain FinTech Bay, which has a roster of international supporters including Microsoft, Cisco and American Express.

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