Anybody even causally following Bahrain’s burgeoning homegrown FinTech ecosystem probably needs no further briefs on the Central Bank of Bahrain’s (CBB) immense contribution to the sector.
The introduction of the Regulatory Sandbox, and FinTech & Innovation Unit, the dedicated FinTech arm of the CBB, and its subsequent role in helping emerging startups scale, pretty much speaks for itself. Adding more meat to these efforts, the CBB has launched another new initiative called ‘FinHub973.’
That’s a cool name, what is it though?
Conceptually and operationally, FinHub973 is a vast platform designed to enable the entirety of the FinTech ecosystem to connect under one roof. Its objective is to serve as a digital lab where financial institutions can come test their FinTech solutions (kinda like Dexter’s Laboratory). They can also explore solutions for different problem statements and when the market demands.
Additionally, the platform also facilitates technical testing of new products and services with CBB’s Regulatory Sandbox. The latter is important considering that it allows new startups even easier access to the Regulatory Sandbox
FinHub973 also connects, screens, qualifies global FinTech brands in a centralized AI-driven marketplace where interested parties can collaborate, cooperate, and co-create with the Bahraini financial services sector. Talk about a multi-functional platform, right?
At launch, FinHub973 is open to all FinTech startups and scaleups of all sizes, as well as innovators, investors, financial institutions, and venture capitalists.
PS. All FinTech startups will be screened and tested before they can join the platform and the applicants must meet the benchmarks set by the CBB.
Alright, I’m all ears to know about other FinHub973 benefits.
- FinTech startups from all over the world will be able to join FinHub973 to gain access to Bahrain’s regulated financial institutions. This comes off as quite a handy feature, as it emperors startups to build prototypes and test different solutions to a specific pain point under the regulatory framework of yours truly, Bahrain. Once the tests are successfully completed, the solution or the prototype can be integrated with CBB regulations so the production phase may begin.
- All FinTech startups onboarded on the platform will have access to FinHub973’s digital lab so they can develop and test solutions for Bahraini financial institutions that join the FinHub973 ecosystem. Additionally, these FinTech startups will also have the freedom to use the APIs of these financial institutions for innovation purposes.
- Upon successful exit from the digital lab, FinTech startups can move on to the next level by engaging financial institutions for commercial agreements and production.
On the grader scheme of things, how is Finhub973 helping Bahrain?
For more insights into the possible impact of this new initiative on the Kingdom’s FinTech sector, StartUp Bahrain reached out to Yasmeen Al Sharaf. She started with a quick rundown of how the new paradigm involving regulatory testing and startup acceleration is expected to help.
“Startups will have the opportunity to test their solutions prior to engaging in production and commercial agreements with banks/financial institutions. In some cases, those startups may be required to also be a part of our regulatory sandbox in order to test their solution on FinHub973,” Yasmeen noted.
“FinTechs will also be listed in the digital “marketplace” of Bahrain’s Digital Lab and will have the opportunity to solve challenges set by Bahraini financial institutions. Furthermore, they can test and build new products and solutions specific to challenges posed by those Bahraini financial institutions within FinHub973.”
There will also be an abundance of partner innovation and funding opportunities, Yasmeen added. She underlined that the new platform makes room for deal pipelines to be created and funds to be deployed much more efficiently.
VC firms will gain direct access to FinHub973’s centralized marketplace where they will have an ideal environment to interact with and engage FinTech, RegTechs, and other members of the broader ecosystem.
“FinHub973 provides FinTechs and financial institutions with the opportunity to make use of synthetic data for technical tests. This provides a safe space for FinTech’s to be able to engage with banks and financial institutions without having to go through traditional processes that may take longer than necessary.”
Yasmeen also pointed out that FinHub973 will also help regulated financial institutions to drastically reduce their R&D expenditures over time. In conclusion, she said that with these new initiatives, Bahrain has indeed pulled off an impressive feat by putting itself on the world’s FinTech map.