E-kyc could be next milestone for Bahrain: Odilon Almeida

Manama : Bahrain could lead the fintech scene in the region by introducing electronic KYC, the know-your-customer process in banking using a paperless and electronic method of verifying the identity of customers, the president of Western Union Global Money Transfer, Odilon Almeida told DT News.

He was talking on the sidelines of the launch of Western Union’s mobile app and website for digital transactions in the Kingdom in association with NEC Money Exchange.

“Moving into electronic KYC it is the next milestone for Bahrain,” said Odilon Almeida, who oversees Western Union’s entire global consumer omnichannel business. With electronic KYC, a bank or a financial institution can recognize a customer without interviewing him. He was responding to a question on the launch of a regulatory sandbox in Bahrain which allows entrants to test their banking ideas and solutions.

“We have the right partner and the right regulator,” he said referring to NEC Money Exchange and the Central Bank of Bahrain with regard to new strides in Western Union’s digital journey.

When asked about fears in the general public about cybersecurity and possibilities of a data leak, he said Western Union has ensured that their transactions are safe. He said the company hires people to “attack” the efficiency of the system adding that safety comes first.

With Bahrain’s plans to adopt blockchain technology - a distributed ledger that tracks transactions among parties - Odilon Almeida said blockchain has a lot of potential and countries that make a head start will lead the space. He confirmed that Western Union’s is testing the technology with Ripple, a company that uses blockchain technology to make faster digital transactions. Ripple’s website asks why in a world where three billion people are connected online, “global payments are still stuck in the disco era.”

“Blockchain has a lot of potentials, but it has a good chance,” Odilon Almeida told DT News.

He said Bahrain is right positioned for innovation and the country has the “right DNA” when it comes to moving ahead in adopting fintech.

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