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ReportBahrain’s digital fintech lab gets Islamic flavor

Bahrain’s digital fintech lab gets Islamic flavor

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has unveiled its latest fintech initiative, FinHub973, an open application programming interface (API) innovation platform enabling the testing and development of fintech solutions.

A multi-stakeholder collaboration with a host of industry players, including Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB), Bank ABC, ila Bank, BENEFIT and National Bank of Bahrain, the digital fintech lab is powered by Dubai-based Fintech Galaxy’s crowdsourcing and open API platform FinX22. Through the lab, fintech start-ups will be able to develop, test and deploy solutions in a sandbox environment.

FinHub973 will also offer matchmaking and crowdsourcing capabilities, which is hoped to help contribute to the design of effective fintech solutions, ultimately spurring disruptive and transformative innovation across the financial services industry, including its robust Shariah finance sector.

“Thanks to the CBB’s innovative mindset, the Kingdom has already become a testbed for financial innovation, enabling us to access secure, cutting-edge platforms, enabling the development of robust fintech solutions,” shared Hassan Jarrar, CEO of BisB.

In conjunction with the launch of FinHub973, the Islamic bank rolled out the BisB Innovation Lab, designed for enterprise-ready and globally mature fintech companies to develop a solution to support its credit operations and consumer banking division.

“The platform must strategically harness the power of extensive data collection and [artificial] intelligence (AI) to provide more data-driven insights that are curated to individual customer portfolios, with a special focus on lending products. The final solution developed will require the use of sophisticated data extraction and analysis in order to effectively integrate unstructured data including key market trends, data points in broker submissions, financial history and factor in customer behavior,” explained BisB.

The hackathon will run until the 27th December with finalists to be announced in January 2021.

The CBB has been a strong proponent of fintech, proactively engaging the community and taking measures to establish a conducive ecosystem for tech developments in the Kingdom, with a strong emphasis on Islamic fintech solutions. It was the first in the region to introduce a regulatory sandbox back in 2017, it carved out a dedicated fintech and innovation unit and also approved various related regulations including for open banking, digital asset platform operators, robo-advisory, cloud computing and insurance aggregators.

“In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, the latest trends of technology the likes of AI and big data are affecting the economy at an unprecedented pace. These collaborative partnerships are essential to catalyze innovation, stimulate competition and idea generation and the creation of transformative digital solutions in finance for the benefit of the industry, economy and society at large,” noted Hassan.

“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,” commented Rasheed Al Maraj, the governor of the CBB. “The launch of FinHub 973 reaffirms the vision of the CBB to expand infrastructure in financial technology, unlock innovation opportunities and introduce new and innovative financial products to the market.”


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