Bahrain, Editor's Picks, Financial services, Technology

Apple co-founder to discuss FinTech revolution in Bahrain

Bahrain has announced that it will host “Fintastic Week,” a series of conferences and seminars for experts from the global financial and technology communities, is held in Bahrain between 24th to 29th February.

Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak

The event will shed light on Bahrain’s central role in the rapidly developing world of FinTech.

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.

Fintastic Week will see Bahrain hosting the eighth GCC Financial Forum on 26 – 27 February, an annual event that has become an increasingly important date for the diary of the region’s FinTech community.

Global tech innovator and Apple Computers co-founder Steve Wozniak will take centre stage and share his thoughts and predictions on the current and future state of the global financial technology industry.  Other notable speakers at event include Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance and National Economy; and Louise Beaumont, co-chair of the Open Banking & Payments Working group, at Tech UK.

Victoria Behn, Director of Middle East and Africa at Euromoney Conferences, co-organisers of the GCC Financial Forum, said, “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 $2 billion of private funding in the next decade.

The potential for even greater change is illustrated by the fact that 86 percent 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 recognised reforms have taken place across the region, such as open banking; regulatory sandboxes; and the updating of regulations to reflect the digitised 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 and American Express.

Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, a co-host of Fintastic Bahrain Week, said, “The FinTech space in the Middle East is growing and its opportunities and potential are being recognised by the global FinTech community. In Bahrain, we are building on our heritage of excellence in financial services by developing innovative new products and services that will transform how consumers and businesses right across the region approach this sector, and evens such as Fintastic Bahrain Week bring these fresh and new ideas to the table.”

“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 Bahrain 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.”

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