Innovate Finance, the membership association representing UK’s global FinTech sector, today announced its trip to the Gulf this week to foster closer FinTech ties in the region. The trade body will also support the Kingdom of Bahrain and the UAE in building thriving FinTech centers that can collaborate with other innovation hubs such as London and the UK – which are recognised as having the world’s leading and most collaborative FinTech ecosystems.
Lawrence Wintermeyer, CEO of Innovate Finance, kicked off the week long trip today with a key note address at the FinTech Enterprise Excellerate (E2) conference, the exclusive FinTech platform at the World Islamic Banking Conference in Bahrain. He outlined the significance of Bahrain in advancing the global FinTech sector and urged the country to seize the opportunity to lead the region in creating a financial services sector that embraces innovation. Wintermeyer commented further on Bahrain’s well-established financial services sector, its talent base and strong digital connectivity. The country’s well-educated and bilingual workforce makes up two thirds of the Gulf’s financial services employees and 73% of jobs in the banking sector.
Within financial services, Bahrain also stands out for its global leadership in the field of Islamic finance, hosting the largest concentration of Islamic financial institutions in the world. This sector has also seen recent and rapid growth with assets in Bahrain’s Islamic banking sector rising from $1.9 billion in 2000 to $25.1 billon in June 2015.
“Whilst Bahrain continues to improve on a number of international measures it is clear that FinTech presents a sizeable opportunity to modernise, internationalise and democratise financial services in the region,” said Wintermeyer. “London has emerged as the world’s leading global FinTech hub and so there is an opportunity to learn from London and the UK’s approach to the development of FinTech that may offer other hubs, such as Bahrain, learning on its journey to attract the talent and capital to grow its own FinTech ecosystem.”
Innovate Finance will meet with regulators this week in Bahrain to engage in open, collaborative and inclusive dialogue with respect to FinTech policy approaches and frameworks in the UK. It will also share lessons learned from its experiences with the FCA and the regulator’s on-going support for the UK’s FinTech community. The collaboration will assist Bahrain in fostering responsible FinTech innovation through information-sharing and global best practices.
The visit coincides with UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s trip to the region, which is focused on exploring post-Brexit trade with Gulf nations during a two-day visit to Bahrain. Wintermeyer noted: “As we have seen with madras and dim sum bonds, London could be an important market to seek and raise capital for Sharia compliant FinTech ventures in the GCC.”
Innovate Finance will also meet with influential FinTech supporters in UAE later this week.