Info-tech

Bahrain woos Indian fintech start-ups

K. R. Srivats New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 13, 2017

Simon Galpin, MD, Bahrain Economic Development Board

To introduce regulations for equity crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending

Bahrain plans to set up a Fintech Centre next year to provide accelerators and co-working spaces for fintech companies, Simon Galpin, Managing Director, Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), has said.

This Fintech Centre, which is likely to be opened in February or March 2018, will also provide networking opportunities for both start-ups and big banks interested in the fintech area, Galpin told BusinessLine.

Galpin was in India this past week as part of efforts to attract Indian fintech start-ups and manufacturing companies in pharma and food processing industries to locate in Bahrain and take advantage of the liberal environment that is on offer, for them to scale up.

“We are not looking at early-stage companies. We are keen on companies that have already been successfully established in India and are looking to spread their wings,” he said.

Galpin said Bahrain offered better terms, than say Dubai, for Indian companies to look to set up base in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market.

“We are 20-30 per cent less expensive than Dubai and you (as a company) are not restricted to be located only in a special zone. A company setting up base can cater to our domestic as well as international markets,” he said.

Galin also said Bahrain will, in the next few months, come up with regulations for equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending and this would help fintech start-ups scale up.

“We want to start dialogues with as many as companies as possible. We certainly would like a number of companies to visit Bahrain and consider going into one of our accelerators or even set up base there.”

Sandbox

Bahrain had recently come out with a regulatory sandbox to allow start-ups and fintech firms to test and experiment their banking ideas and solutions.

The sandbox regulations allow start-ups not ready to apply for the traditional banking or financial services licences to operate under a sandbox environment. “Two companies have already applied to join the sandbox — one is a payments company and the other is for big data for financial institutions.”

Galpin also said the fintech space in India is very dynamic, particularly in the payment side. “There are some high-growth companies in the payment side that are doing tremendous work here and have developed great products that will be attractive for GCC markets too,” he said.

He highlighted that a sizeable percentage of expats in Bahrain are workers and do not have bank accounts with the banks in Bahrain. “Finding payment or fintech solutions that can enable people to secure their savings and make transfers in a cost-effective way will help everybody. We do see a lot of opportunities for payments and insurance technology companies that have shown interest in Bahrain.”

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Published on August 13, 2017
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