Bahrain’s central role in the rapidly developing world of FinTech will be celebrated later this month as the annual Fintastic Week, a series of conferences and seminars for experts from the global financial and technology communities, is held in Bahrain between February 24 – 29.
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.
Commenting on the Forum, 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 $2bn 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 recognized reforms have taken place across the region, such as open banking; regulatory sandboxes; and the updating of regulations to reflect the digitized 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
H.E. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, a co-host of
“As we look to diversify our sources of growth, FinTech will play an increasingly important role in creating coordinated, agile and action orientated economies across the region. That is why Fintastic Week is so important. It will bring together like-minded individuals and companies who want to take advantage of this opportunity and work together to achieve a more financially inclusive and sustainable future.”
All Fintastic Week events have been deliberately designed to provide meaningful insights that can have a direct impact on the development of new innovations, whether by FinTech entrepreneurs or established financial players. The events include:
- The GCC Financial Forum on February 26 and 27 where Steve Wozniak will take centre stage by delivering the main address followed by an interactive session with the audience. The event will tackle industry topics such as responsible finance, open banking, women driving innovation in finance, and the changing regulatory landscape, under the theme ‘The Reinvention of Financial Services’.
- The 3rd Middle East & Africa FinTech Forum under the theme ‘Banking Beyond Disruption’ will be held February 20 – 21. The event is sponsored by Bank ABC and AFS (Arab Financial Services) and will bring together internationally renowned thought leaders, practitioners and innovators from the FinTech and artificial intelligence (AI) arenas to discuss a wide range of issues including the future of banking; potential impact of AI and how it will transform the future; open banking; crowdsourcing; and financial inclusion.
- Bankruptcy Law and its Impact on Banking and Startups Seminar on February 24will be an interactive session addressing how FinTech start-ups can ensure their innovations can be successfully rolled-out across the region through high quality compliance and regulatory adherence.
- RegFact Conference 2019 held under the patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain and organised by Bahrain FinTech Bay, takes place on February 25 and will explore how the private sector and regulators can work together to design the most pro-innovation regulatory system possible to allow FinTech to flourish.
- The BDB Rowad Majlis ‘Fireside Debate’ on February 25 will provide an enlightening opportunity for start-ups to meet international venture capitalists to discuss the booming FinTech sector in the Middle East and how access to funding can be improved.
For more information about Fintastic Bahrain Week and to register, please visit bahrainedb.com/events/fintastic-bahrain-week-2019/
Follow @BahrainEDB on social media to keep up to date with the agenda.