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Fintastic Bahrain Week – Understanding the trajectory of FinTech in 2019

Digital EconomyFinanceFinTech

As we get deeper into 2019, the likely path of the FinTech industry through the rest of the year is beginning to emerge. The increasing rise of challenger banks, digital-only banks and non-traditional, algorithm-powered lenders is a given. The move towards cashless societies continues, with some speculating that Australia could be cash-free by 2020. Many are excited about voice becoming the primary interface, believing that with advances in technology even mortgages could be negotiated and secured with voice alone.

The move towards open banking will gather pace, bringing greater personalisation and the release of vast new data sets. Some say it should be the year where regulation starts to catch up with technology and where RegTech grows more sophisticated. Others say 2019 will see cryptocurrencies start to mature and consolidate. There is even speculation that this will be the year when quantum computing will start to become deployable within the FinTech space, bringing processing power unimaginable on standard computers.

In the Gulf, FinTech startups are expected to attract $2bn in private funding over the next 10 years, compared to $150m over the previous decade, demonstrating the enormous appetite to fund promising new businesses and reflecting the rapid acceleration of the industry across the region. Yet nearly 80% of investment in FinTech happens in the US. This may change as the impact of technology on Islamic Finance, though in its early stages, creates new and novel opportunities which present great promise for the GCC.

Bahrain, with the oldest and most established financial centre in the Gulf region, developed and built over the past 40 years, has been amongst the first in the GCC to pursue regulatory modernisation in FinTech. A recent result of this pursuit is the launch of the Central Bank of Bahrain’s Regulatory Sandbox – the first nation-wide sandbox in the Gulf – strengthening Bahrain’s position as the perfect testbed for FinTech startups to test their solutions and scale them across the region. Last December, promising open banking platform startup Almoayed Technologies and its subsidiary Tarabut Gateway became the first Regulatory Sandbox graduate. And with the Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB), FinTech startups now also have the ideal base from which to experiment and grow. BFB is the region’s largest dedicated FinTech hub, and was launched with multiple partnerships with global businesses such as Microsoft, Cisco and American Express.

That’s why Bahrain is well placed to convene some of the most original thinkers in FinTech to map the trajectory of the industry through 2019 and beyond. Bahrain will host Fintastic Bahrain Week in Manama from February 21 – February 27, 2019. More than 800 delegates are expected to attend and watch speakers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who will deliver the keynote at The GCC Financial Forum 2019 on February 26 and 27th (Register here.) Other sessions will cover RegTech, Responsible Finance, Women and FinTech, Open Banking and the law. A varied and engaging line-up that will no doubt attract the brightest and the best from the world of FinTech to attend and participate. Will you be amongst them?

You can keep up-to-date on everything that is happening in the run-up to the events through our social media channels at @BahrainEDB. For more information about Fintastic Bahrain week, to register and to find out more, please visit https://bahrainedb.com/fintastic

Dalal Buhejji

Senior Manager - Financial Services, Bahrain EDB