But rather than rest on its laurels, the small Gulf kingdom is striving to be on the cutting edge of the transformations being brought on by financial technology – more popularly known as fintech.
Launched in February 2018, Bahrain FinTech Bay – housed in the ultra-modern and undeniably striking Arcapita Building – has a threefold aim: accelerating local early-stage fintech companies to their next stage of development; attracting foreign growth-stage fintech companies to establish regional offices in Bahrain and facilitate their expansion in the GCC; and creating a physical hub for co-creation and the sharing of resources and ideas.
“I think it’s been a pretty good start,” says FinTech Bay’s youthful, British-educated CEO, Khalid Saad. “It’s been only just a few months since launch, but what we’ve started to see is that there is a much bigger engagement with stakeholders in the ecosystem. There are a lot of digitalisation and fintech-related initiatives that have kicked off already.”