Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain – 14 August 2021 – As part of the ongoing efforts towards developing the cross-border payment systems in the Kingdom of Bahrain and adopting the latest technologies into retail payment systems, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), along with the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), joined the Arabian Gulf System for Financial Automated Quick Payment Transfer (AFAQ) that was launched on the 10th of December 2020. The system is operated by the Gulf Payment Company (GPC) in Riyadh, which was established based on the decisions made by the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to build and operate the GCC Real Time Gross Settlement system (RTGS). The company is owned and managed by the National Central Banks of the six GCC countries (United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait).
The AFAQ system was adopted as part of an initiative aimed to provide a regional payment system that will contribute to the financial integration, stability, and economic growth in the region. The main objective of the System is to provide banks and customers an additional channel of transferring funds through a faster and more secure mean at a lower transaction cost, simultaneously mitigating various risks.
With the launch of the first phase of the AFAQ Service; Cross-Currency service, the CBB being its first direct participant has commenced the process of onboarding all Retail Banks to the AFAQ System, and the first batch of Bahraini Retail Banks were successfully onboarded during April 2021. The first batch include Ahli United Bank, Bahrain Islamic Bank, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait, Eskan Bank, and National Bank of Bahrain. The onboarding process of the remaining banks is currently in progress.