#BH52: Charting the Evolution of the Banking & FinTech Sector in Bahrain

It was in 1920 that Bahrain’s first bank, The Eastern Bank Ltd. opened in the Kingdom. From there, the journey of banking on the island has opened up to innovation and scale at rapid and ambitious rates. Bahrain’s financial sector is perhaps the largest non-oil contributor to the Kingdom’s GDP, according to the Economic Development Board.

CrediMax B.S.C. is among the first Credit Card issuers and acquirers in Bahrain. In 1999, CrediMax branched out into an independent subsidiary of BBK, one of the prominent commercial banks in the Kingdom.

Financial Technology or FinTech competes with traditional financial methods. The emerging industry has been embraced by the Kingdom with financial innovations taking shape across the board.

The Central Bank of Bahrain is driving FinTech growth through the Regulatory Sandbox, a platform that allows FinTech startups to test and launch their products and services in a controlled environment. This initiative has not only attracted local entrepreneurs but has also enticed international players to set up operations in Bahrain.

BENEFIT, Beyon Money, NEC Payments, BFC Payments, American Express, BNP Paribas, and Standard Chartered are some of the big names in the Banking & FinTech industry, operating in Bahrain.

Bahrain also established FinTech Bay in 2018, the largest financial technology centre in the Middle East. FinTech Bay provides advanced laboratories, innovation labs, acceleration programmes and a collaborative platform to develop the FinTech ecosystem.

In 2020, the CBB launched FinHub 973, the region’s first cross-border, digital innovation platform that connects and facilitates collaboration between financial institutions and fintechs under the supervision of the central bank.