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The first edition of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) FinTech conference will be held in Bahrain to foster discussion about the challenges and opportunities presented by the emerging sector.
The first edition of the conference will be hosted by Arab Financial Services, a prominent electronic payment processor based in Bahrain. The event will be sponsored by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), a government agency overseeing economic development strategy in the country and; the Arab Banking Corporation (ABC), also based in Bahrain, according to local media.
The forum, themed “Fintech Disruption of the Financial Industry” will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Bahrain Bay on March 29.
AFS chief executive B Chandrasekhar stated:
Fintech is an innovative and fast-growing sector presenting tremendous opportunities. This event will allow us to understand and analyse the FinTech revolution and help us position Bahrain as a leader in the journey toward a digital, cashless economy.
A number of initiatives toward a digital, cashless economy will be discussed at the forum. Notably, the event will be opened by Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, the governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain. A number of other participants including regulators and government officials will also discuss and understand FinTech’s potential for transformational change and disruption from professionals and experts from the industry.
“The regional financial sector has developed considerably over the past two decades,” said AFS chairman Sael Al Waary. “[W]e are hoping to bring the FinTech ecosystem together, helping connect startups, technology companies, investors, financial institutions and regulators to build stronger relationships and create opportunities for everyone.”
Perhaps one of FinTech’s most-celebrated and occasionally-controversial inventions, bitcoin remains a niche in its adoption in the region. Dubai-based bitcoin wallet and exchange, BitOasis, a MENA-specific bitcoin company offers its services in Bahrain. However, the very discussion of Fintech innovations, particularly with digital currencies and blockchain technology in the neighboring regions of Qatar and Dubai sees the nation of Bahrain stepping up its efforts to embrace the tide of digitization sweeping across the financial services sector.
Image of Four Seasons, Bahrain from Shutterstock.