Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) have signed a Fintech cooperation agreement, the first in the Middle East and North Africa region.
With the new partnership, Bahrain EDB and ADGM will explore initiatives to promote economic growth in financial services through the adoption of new technology, a statement said.
The agreement comes as the Fintech sector has witnessed approximately $50 billion in investment globally, but the MENA region has received only about 1 percent of that.
"We are excited to witness the first FinTech MoU between two MENA jurisdictions," said Richard Teng, CEO, Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM.
"Together, we advocate and see the MENA region as a continuous whole and look to leverage each other’s strengths to anchor a vibrant Fintech ecosystem."
The agreement will allow for a closer collaboration on the exchange of information on trends, services and products, leading to a closer relationship in the development of Islamic finance and Fintech initiatives across the region.
The statement said professional and academic knowledge transfer, accelerator programmes and the mutual promotion of the development of relevant technologies such as digital payments and blockchain are fundamental to the growth of these sectors.
It added that Fintech startups will have the ability to access information from each respective jurisdiction through one common point of contact.
"We have seen exciting momentum in FinTech in Bahrain and across the region over the last year," said David Parker, executive director – Financial Services at Bahrain EDB.
"This MoU marks another inspiring moment in our regional development. In Bahrain, an ongoing series of legal and regulatory reforms are supporting easy access to a wide range of new opportunities, including a Fintech sandbox and support for both conventional and Shari’a-compliant crowdfunding."
Underpinned by the establishment of a new Amazon Web Services (AWS) region based in Bahrain, key activities include the establishment of a new regulatory sandbox, the launch of a national e-wallet and the development of the MENA region’s largest FinTech hub, which is set to open in the first quarter 2018.
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