FinTech (a portmanteau of ‘financial technology’) is surging ahead in the Middle East, and Bahrain is set to become the centre of this innovation within the next few years with the launch of Bahrain FinTech Bay in the Arcapita Building.
The international FinTech sector has grown from “disruptive roots into an industry in its own right – generating £6.6b in revenue in 2015” according to Harriet Baldwin. The scope for various activities within the industry presents a unique opportunity for both startups and large enterprises to blossom and expand into the field.
The Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB) will be comprised of state-of-the-art facilities; encourage interaction between investors, entrepreneurs, governments, and financial bodies; and will lead the way in free ICT infrastructure and enhancing the regulatory environment.
So, where will Bahrain take FinTech next?
1. Corporate and Individual
Maissan Al Maskati, Chairman of FinTech Consortium Bahrain, claims that Bahrain has “the most credible FinTech proposition in the Middle East.” The lack of corporate or personal income taxes make the island an ideal location to provide low operating costs, which supports FinTech’s agile business model.
The BFB is specifically designed to enhance communal workspaces, such as hot desks and workstations. All of these features allow greater connectivity between various self-starters and opens the door for them to engage with enterprises.
2. Disruption Is Evolution
Bahrain hosted its inaugural Fintastic Bahrain Week in mid-February, with over 700 regional and global leaders gathering to discuss the future of FinTech. The focus remained clear: how can we face the most pertinent challenges of the industry’s future?
The answer seems to be simple in nature: disruption. One of the biggest trials facing the industry is maintaining software security, and reassuring financial regulators that FinTech is capable of responding to security issues quickly and strategically. By fostering open spaces, like Fintastic Bahrain Week, bright minds can gather to brainstorm solutions to FinTech’s incoming challenges.
3. Spread The Word
How to market FinTech start-ups is an evolving issue, and bankers are still underestimating the impact they can have on customers. That being said, agencies have to take the unique characteristics of FinTech startups into consideration when devising marketing strategies, and it seems Bahrain is ready to tackle this head on.
The appointment of Ali Abdulla as Head of Marketing & Conferences of BFB and Vice President at FinTech Consortium shows a willingness to focus on creatively helping SMEs and start-ups deliver their message to a targeted audience. They’re after the young and tech-savvy population of Bahrain, and with the right guidance, FinTech can become the buzzword on everyone’s lips in no time.
The future of FinTech seems to be in safe hands here in Bahrain. By becoming pioneers in overcoming the industry’s biggest challenges, the kingdom should look towards becoming a global FinTech leader.