Head of Fintech & Innovation Unit at CBB named in Women in FinTech Powerlist 2020

Manama, Bahrain – 25 March 2020 – Innovate Finance UK announced  “The Women in FinTech Powerlist 2020” which included Head of Fintech & Innovation Unit at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Ms. Yasmeen Al Sharaf. Ms. Al Sharaf was selected for the second consecutive year amongst the Policy Makers and Regulatory Experts category which caters for Regulators, Policy Advisors and Compliance Professionals.

The Women in FinTech Powerlist initiative was launched to recognize women leading innovation in financial services and has recently published the list of 200 women shaping the future of finance. Innovate Finance received over 1000 applications for this year’s list which incorporates 7 different categories including; Senior Leaders, Rising Stars, Technology Professionals, Investors, Policy Makers and Regulatory Experts, Marketers & Communicators and Financial & Professional Services; resulting in applications and nominations from around the world which were reviewed and finalized by a panel of independent judges and experts in FinTech. It is worth noting that Innovate Finance UK is an Independent industry body that represents and advances the global FinTech community. Innovate Finance’s focus ranges from startups to global financial institutions to investors, professional services firms, and global FinTech hubs.

On this occasion Ms. Al Sharaf commented: “As a Bahraini woman in the FinTech field, I am honored to have this opportunity to represent the Kingdom on the Women in FinTech Powerlist 2020, for the second year running. I am also exceedingly grateful for the opportunities being granted to empower Bahraini women to reach such achievements in local and international forums.  On this occasion, I would like to extend my appreciation to His Excellency Mr. Rasheed Mohamed AlMaraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, for his continued trust, guidance and support and for his invaluable role in encouraging female inclusivity & leadership within the financial sector.”

Mr. Rasheed Al Maraj, CBB Governor, congratulated Ms. Yasmeen Al Sharaf on her selection amongst the leading personalities in FinTech for 2020, saying: “We commend this achievement and the role of women across all sectors including FinTech. We take pride in all the female competencies at the CBB for their hard work and active participation on both local and international levels, and particularly in light of the technological developments in the banking and financial sector.”

 

CBB and BAB hold forum on FinHub973 for the financial sector

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain – 6 March 2021 – The Central Bank of Bahrain (“CBB”), in cooperation with the Bahrain Association of Banks (“BAB”), held a forum for banks and insurance companies regarding FinHub973 to discuss the progress of the platform which was launched in October 2020 in cooperation with Fintech Galaxy. 

The virtual forum was attended by Mr. Rasheed Mohammed AlMaraj, Governor of the CBB, Dr. Waheed Al Qassim, CEO of BAB, Mr. Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and CEOs of retail banks and insurance companies. 

FinHub 973 is the MENA region’s first cross-border digital innovation platform that connects and facilitates collaboration between financial institutions and FinTechs under the supervision of the central bank. FinHub973 enables local and global FinTechs to connect seamlessly with Bahrain’s financial institutions to explore, test, and prototype new and innovative solutions on a centralized digital sandbox.  

During the forum, the latest developments in FinHUb 973 were presented, most notably the open API Sandbox, which will enable banks and other financial institutions in Bahrain to seamlessly integrate with FinTechs to support them on their digital transformation journeys. A new feature of the platform was also highlighted, namely providing compliance as a service for partner banks and financial institutions with Bahrain Open Banking Framework. 

On this occasion, Mr. Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the CBB said: “This initiative is an opportunity to stimulate innovation opportunities and enhance cooperation between the CBB, financial instituions and FinTechs to explore and create new and innovative solutions through a centralized virtual environment. Such an initiative supports seamless transition towards digital banking as part of our continuous digital transformation strategy for the financial sector in the Kingdom”. Mr. Al Maraj encouraged financial institutions to participate in this platform and benefit from the opportunities resulting from collaberating with FinTechs.  

Dr. Waheed Al-Qassem, CEO of BAB, said: “This smart initiative by the CBB will boost the development of financial technology and provide the necessary support for incubation, guidance and financing of FinTechs, and enhance this field within the financial sector and wider economy in line with the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030. 

Dr.  Al Qassim added: “FinHub 973 become a comprehensive benchmark for the development of financial technology in Bahrain, based on the shared focus and talent provided by the partner financial institutions and stakeholders of the platform.  Dr. Al Qassim expects this platform to achieve more success, especially as financial technology is an essential part of digital transformation in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the need to adopt this new technology by the public. 

Head of Fintech & Innovation Unit at CBB named in Women in FinTech Powerlist 2019

Manama, Bahrain – 9 March 2020 – Innovate Finance UK announced  “The Women in FinTech Powerlist 2019” which included Head of Fintech & Innovation Unit at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Ms. Yasmeen Al Sharaf. Ms. Al Sharaf was selected amongst the Policy Makers and Regulatory Experts category which caters for Regulators, Policy Advisors and Compliance Professionals.

The Women in FinTech Powerlist initiative was launched to recognize women leading innovation in financial services and has recently published the list of 200 women shaping the future of finance. Innovate Finance received over 650 applications for this year’s list which incorporates 7 different categories including; Senior Leaders, Rising Stars, Technology Professionals, Investors, Policy Makers and Regulatory Experts, Marketers & Communicators and Financial & Professional Services; resulting in applications and nominations from around the world which were reviewed and finalized by a panel of independent judges and experts in FinTech. It is worth noting that Innovate Finance UK is an Independent industry body that represents and advances the global FinTech community. Innovate Finance’s focus ranges from startups to global financial institutions to investors, professional services firms, and global FinTech hubs.

On this occasion Ms. Al Sharaf commented: “I am honored to have been selected amongst 200 other inspirational women from all around the world, to be part of Innovate Finance’s “Women in FinTech Powerlist 2019” under the ‘Policy Makers & Regulatory Experts’ segment. I am proud to be representing Bahraini women in the FinTech field and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Innovate Finance for this selection and for their recognition and I look forward to seeing more recognitions for successful Bahraini women.”

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) extends its congratulations to Ms. Yasmeen Al Sharaf on this achievement and praises the role of women across all sectors including FinTech.

CBB participates in IIF Digital Financial Inclusion Summit

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain – 17th November 2019 – Head of Fintech and Innovation Unit at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), Yasmeen Al Sharaf, participated as a speaker at the Digital Financial Inclusion Summit organized by the Institute of International Finance (IIF) on 6 – 7 November in Cairo. The summit brings together key global and regional financial sector leaders, decision makers, experts and entrepreneurs to discuss digital financial inclusion, and the role of financial services in meeting the requirements of the digital economy, cloud computing and blockchain.

During a panel session entitled “Transforming through public and private cooperation”, Al Sharaf highlighted the fact that Bahrain has a track record as a business-friendly environment and is home to the Gulf’s largest financial services sector.

Ms. Al Sharaf also discussed how the CBB’s Regulatory Sandbox has become a catalyst for innovation, as startups and financial institutions come together to test out their innovative financial solutions.

Al Sharaf emphasized that despite the advancement of electronic payment systems and the CBB’s initiatives in encouraging the use of cashless methods, the CBB will continue its efforts in integrating the latest technologies and solutions to enhance financial inclusion in line with the digital economy requirements.

CBB wins key Fintech award

Manama, Bahrain – 2nd October 2019 – The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has won a key award for its initiatives in the area of Financial Technology (Fintech).

The Most Innovative Fintech Regulator Of The Year was conferred by Fintech Galaxy, a digital crowdfunding platform, during FinX 2019, a Fintech event held on 2 October 2019 in Dubai, UAE.

The Award recognizes the regulation entity that is actively investing and improving their fintech startup seamless experience, and was conferred on the CBB for its initiatives in introducing and developing both the regulatory framework and ecosystem needed to support the ambition of fintech startups and existing financial institutions.

“We are pleased to receive this recognition which represents the major strides taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain in advancing in the Fintech arena, and in particular, the CBB’s reputation as a forward-thinking regulator. These initiatives are a continuation of the CBB’s efforts in offering the right mix of policies and products to develop and enhance the quality and competitiveness of services in the financial sector, and we are always open to embracing innovation and new technologies.” said Mr. Khalid Hamad, Executive Director of Banking Supervision at the CBB.

The CBB also participated in a panel alongside banking and Fintech experts from the region. The panel discussed the creation of a regional Fintech hub, the power of collaboration between Fintech companies and banks, and customer experience at the core.

It is worth noting that Team Bahrain, which was represented by the CBB, the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and Bahrain Fintech Bay, has previously won the MENA Fintech Hub of the Year Award at FinX 2018.

Recent initiatives by the CBB to foster innovation in the financial sector following the introduction of the Regulatory Sandbox in 2017 and setting up a dedicated Fintech and Innovation Unit, include issuing regulations for Open Banking, Crypto-asset Platform Operators, Digital Financial Advice (“robo-advisory”), Crowdfunding, Cloud Computing and Insurance Aggregators.

 

 

Central Bank of Bahrain issues final rules on Crypto-asset services and Crypto-asset exchanges

Manama, Bahrain – 25th February 2019 – The Central Bank of Bahrain (“CBB”) has issued the final rules on a range of activities relevant to Crypto-assets. Crypto-assets operating under block chain distributed ledger systems have drawn much regulator attention globally, and the CBB rules are aimed at ensuring that the related activities are brought within the regulatory perimeter and are subject to comprehensive regulatory and supervisory measures.

 

Mr. Khalid Hamad, Executive Director – Banking Supervision, said: “We will continue to enhance our regulatory framework in order to keep pace with the innovations taking place in the major financial centres around the globe. The CBB’s introduction of the rules relating to crypto-assets is in line with its goal to develop a comprehensive rules for the FinTech eco-system supporting Bahrain’s position as a leading financial hub in the MENA region.”

 

The CBB Crypto-asset rules deal with the rules for licensing, governance, minimum capital, control environment, risk management, AML/CFT, standards of business conduct, avoidance of conflicts of interest, reporting, and cyber security for crypto-asset services. They also cover supervision and enforcement standards including those provided by a platform operator as a principal, agent, portfolio manager, adviser and as a custodian within or from the Kingdom of Bahrain.

 

In addition, for those licensed by the CBB as crypto-asset exchanges, the regulatory framework also contain rules relevant to order matching, pre and post trade transparency, measures to avoid market manipulation and market abuse, and conflicts of interest.

 

Recognising the emerging nature of these activities and the risks involved, the CBB rules also specify, among other measures the following:

  • Need for enhanced due diligence (EDD) when on boarding new clients;
  • Requirements to ensure that no encrypted safe custody accounts or “wallets” are maintained that cannot be retrieved;
  • A mandate to ensure that keyman risks are adequately managed including by having the necessary insurance covers;
  • The clients are educated and given clear instructions for use of the safe custody wallets.

Central Bank of Bahrain invites innovative firms to cross-border testing pilot

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain – 3 February 2019: As part of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) is inviting applications from firms wishing to test innovative financial products, services or business models across more than one jurisdiction.

The GFIN is a network of 29 international financial regulators and related organizations committed to supporting financial innovation in the interests of consumers. The pilot cross border tests follow last year’s consultation on the role of the GFIN in creating an environment that allows firms to simultaneously trial and scale new technologies across multiple jurisdictions, gaining real-time insight into how a product or service might operate in the market, while ensuring appropriate consumer protection is in place.

Mr. Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the CBB said, “This step marks an important milestone in our drive towards digitization and innovation in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the mutual efforts undertaken by all GFIN members in enhancing our Fintech ecosystems. This will build on the success of our the CBB’s own Regulatory Sandbox which launched in mid-2017, and will attract even more companies to test their innovative financial solutions.”

H.E. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), said: “Bahrain has created a successful FinTech ecosystem built on a foundation of strong regulations, a talented workforce with a long history in the financial services industry, and cost competitiveness. The Kingdom also remains at the forefront of innovation, adopting new digitalisation laws which encourage disruption and the introduction of new technologies. The CBB’s commitment to encouraging innovation by introducing initiatives like the Regulatory sandbox and the cross-border pilot tests further strengthen Bahrain’s position as a FinTech hub.”

Firms interested in applying to take part in the pilot cross border tests should review the list of participating regulators and submit an application to the CBB’s Regulatory Sandbox before 28th February 2019.

The GFIN has also finalized terms of reference for governance and membership of the group, and welcomes formal expressions of interest from regulators and international organizations interested in joining. There is no deadline for these applications. More information can be found on the CBB’s website.

The Central Bank of Bahrain issues draft directives on Digital Financial Advice

Manama, Bahrain – 21st January 2019 – The Central Bank of Bahrain (“CBB”) has today issued for consultation, draft directives on “Digital Financial Advice” (also known as “Robo-advice”) enabling its licensees to use technology to offer financial advice to their clients.  The proposed directives cover the key requirements applicable to licensees who wish to use a digital financial advice tool as well as the prudential and conduct requirements associated with such digital advice in order to safeguard the interests of clients.  The draft directives will also allow FinTech firms that are purely focused on robo-advice to seek a license from the CBB.

Mr. Khalid Hamad, Executive Director of Banking Supervision, said: “We are pleased to announce the CBB’s roll out of the digital financial advice rules in line with its hard push to develop the sector and help set best regulatory standards for new and innovative services in financial services thus creating a sound ecosystem to maintain Bahrain’s strong position as a leading financial hub in the region.”

The CBB is seeking feedback on the consultation by 20th February 2019, the consultation paper shall be available on the CBB website (www.cbb.gov.bh) under the “open consultations” section.

Central Bank of Bahrain announces first company to successfully complete the Regulatory Sandbox stage

Manama, 11th December 2018 – The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has announced that Tarabut Gateway, a subsidiary of Almoayed Technologies is the first company to successfully complete the Regulatory Sandbox stage and to receive the CBB’s in-principle confirmation under the Open Banking regulatory framework.

The announcement was made at a ceremony held at the Bahrain Fintech Bay to mark this occasion, in the presence of CBB, Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and Bahrain Fintech Bay officials and Mr. Abdulla Almoayed, CEO of Almoayed Technologies.

H.E. Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor of the CBB, said, “We are very delighted to announce the first company to successfully complete the Regulatory Sandbox stage, which coincides with the issuance of the final rules on Open Banking.  Open Banking will create opportunities for building synergies between financial institutions and FinTechs, thereby, delivering a more competitive and efficient financial services sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain.  We look forward to more successful completions of the Regulatory Sandbox stage by other companies.”

HE Mr Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), said, “We are very pleased to see the  successful graduation of the first company from the regulatory sandbox. This success highlights the CBB’s continuous efforts to update and develop the FinTech ecosystem and enable industry players to create innovative and forward-looking FinTech products while maintaining the overall safety and soundness of the financial system. The collaborative approach between the government and private sector has been instrumental to the advancement of FinTech growth in Bahrain.”

Mr. Abdulla Almoayed, CEO of Almoayed Technologies, said: “We thank the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Economic development Board for their continued support over the last 12 months of us joining the kingdom of Bahrain’s Regulatory Sandbox. Throughout the sandbox period, we have successfully integrated more than 11 banks in Bahrain preparing them for the new Open Banking regulation to deliver one of the world’s most advanced infrastructures enabling Banks and Fintechs within the ecosystem to enhance their offerings and the customer experience as a whole.”

Tarabut Gateway was one of the first companies to enter the regulatory sandbox in early 2018 to test its technology-based innovative open banking solutions and provide connectivity for Bahraini banks to assist their customer in accessing account information across different banks on a single platform, in accordance with the open banking regulations recently issued by the CBB. It is worth noting that such platforms are amongst the latest fintech trends in the industry globally, and Bahrain, being one of the first countries to adopt these technologies, is now at the forefront of these developments. This is in line with the Kingdom’s efforts and vision implementing the latest practices and trends in the banking system.

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