The Bahrain Development Board (EDB) on Wednesday announced the first Fintastic Bahrain Week on Feb.19-21. The week-long series of activities will bring together around 700 international and regional financial services experts to explore disruptive innovation across the industry.
The return of the seventh annual GCC Financial Forum, co-hosted by Euromoney Conferences and EDB, will form the backbone of the week, taking place on the 20th and 21st February at the Four Seasons Hotel, Bahrain Bay. The industry-leading conference will bring together international and regional financiers, economists, investors, bankers and policy makers to discuss and debate challenges and future opportunities for the global financial sector, and what this means for the GCC, with a primary focus on innovations like FinTech, blockchain, artificial intelligence and big data.
Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “The financial services industry is facing an exciting period of disruption, which brings both challenges and opportunities globally. Bahrain is positioned at the heart of this opportunity in the GCC, with well-established financial institutions and onshore regulatory frameworks able to anticipate and respond to this fast-evolving sector. Just as we set the global benchmark for Islamic banking regulation, today the Kingdom’s regulatory sandbox is creating new inroads for innovation, enabling FinTech firms to test and experiment new banking ideas and solutions. Fintastic Bahrain Week presents an important moment to share insights from Bahrain, the GCC and around the world to help shape the future of the sector.”
High profile speakers are converging for the GCC Financial Forum, part of Fintastic Bahrain Week, include Lord Mervyn King, Economist and Former Governor of the Bank of England; and Mohamed El Erian, Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz. They join prominent voices from Bahrain, including Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance, and Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain.
Victoria Behn, Director of Middle East and Africa at Euromoney Conferences, said: “We are honored to host the GCC Financial Forum in partnership with the Bahrain Economic Development Board for the seventh consecutive year. Under the theme ‘innovation and the future of financial services’, this year’s conference is uniquely tailored to explore the implications of the continued convergence of finance and technology for the financial services industry in the GCC. With international financiers, senior policymakers and leading FinTech firms attending from across the Middle East, the GCC Financial Forum will once again be an unmissable event in the region’s financial calendar.”
According to MAGNiTT 2017 State of MENA Funding report, FinTech maintains its position at the top of the investment deal flow, accounting for just below 12% of all startups deals and valued at $66.6 million. The top 3 largest investments from Fintech startups in 2017 include Paytabs ($20m) headquartered in Bahrain, Souqalmal ($10m) and Wahed ($7m).
Fintastic Bahrain Week will conclude with the much-anticipated launch of Bahrain FinTech Bay on the 21st February, which will offer an exciting glimpse into the region’s largest FinTech hub and how it will work with established industry leaders and new entrants from the region and around the world to drive innovation and create opportunities for growth.
The week will also see supporting events take place across the Kingdom’s dynamic startup community, including Rowad, a leading Bahrain-based platform which supports investors and young businesses at all stages of the startup journey. They will be hosting the 9th Rowad Majlis – Cryptechnight 2.0 on the 19th February. This fireside chat will highlight FinTech in Bahrain and the wider region. — SG