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Bahrain launches FinHub 973 to boost innovation in MENA region
The Central Bank of Bahrain announced on Tuesday (Oct. 20) the launch of FinHub 973, the first comprehensive digital fintech lab in the MENA region, in cooperation with the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bank ABC, ila Bank, BENEFIT, National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) and Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB).
The new platform, regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain, will aim to create a collaborative ecosystem in the fintech sector by establishing a gateway for investment opportunities in the region, while fostering innovation and supporting integration between financial institutions and fintech startups.
FinHub 973 will be powered by Fintech Galaxy’s FinX22 platform, which is a cloud-based open innovation platform that complies with the best international technical standards. The FinX22 platform will offer an open banking API sandbox that enables fintech startups to develop, test and deploy fintech solutions.
Through an AI-powered global fintech marketplace, FinHub 973 will aim to connect financial institutions in Bahrain and the region to fintechs from around the world. The digital lab will also offer matchmaking and crowdsourcing capabilities, which will help contribute to the design of effective fintech solutions, ultimately spurring disruptive and transformative innovation across the financial services industry.
Speaking on the launch of FinHub 973, Mr. Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, said: “We are pleased to launch the FinHub 973 digital fintech lab that will support a seamless transition into digital banking operations, while accelerating the transformation towards an AI-powered digital economy.”
H.E. Al Maraj added: “The Covid-19 repercussions have proven the great importance of expanding digital banking and providing appropriate solutions for electronic payment systems. The Central Bank has early realized the importance of continuously developing the banking sector infrastructure, putting itself at the forefront of regulatory bodies that support innovation in order to establish Bahrain’s position as a top financial center. The launch of FinHub 973 reaffirms the vision of the Central Bank of Bahrain to expand infrastructure in financial technology, unlock innovation opportunities, and introduce new and innovative financial products to the market.”
The launch of FinHub 973 follows the Central Bank’s recent initiatives to promote innovation in the Bahrain financial sector, including the launch of the Regulatory Sandbox in 2017, establishment of a dedicated Fintech and Innovation Unit at the bank, and issuing regulations for Open Banking, Crypto-asset Platform Operators, Digital Financial Advice (“robo-advisory”), Cloud Computing and Insurance Aggregators.
Mirna Sleiman, Founder & CEO, Fintech Galaxy, said: “The launch of this platform comes at a pivotal time, when governments and financial institutions from all around the world are increasingly focusing on accelerating their implementation of digital transformation strategies in order to drive business growth.
We are proud to take part in launching and powering The Central Bank of Bahrain’s FinHub 973 digital fintech lab, and we are confident that it will succeed in creating a common digital space that enhances communication between all stakeholders within the financial sector in Bahrain, the region and across the globe.”
FinHub 973 will enable financial institutions to organize virtual hackathons and challenges to accelerate innovation and business growth. The platform will also provide content on the fintech sector financial and the relevant laws and regulations in the Kingdom of Bahrain, through an interactive chatbot.