GCC leads MENA in fintech maturity: report
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GCC leads MENA in fintech maturity: report

GCC leads MENA in fintech maturity: report

Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai and Riyadh named MENA’s top fintech ecosystems by Startup Genome

Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai and Riyadh have been named MENA’s top fintech ecosystems, according to a new report by research firm Startup Genome.

The findings are based on factors including funding, exits, talent and focus as well as ecosystem players including policymakers and founders.

For Bahrain, the report identifies key incentives designed to support businesses including wage subsidy programs from Bahrain’s Labour Fund (Tamkeen), a liberal 0 per cent corporate and personal tax regime as well as the government’s $11.3bn Covid-19 stimulus package to support businesses during the global pandemic.

The report authors wrote: “The Bahraini government has reduced capital startup requirements from $50,000 to $100 for some businesses and introduced a regulatory sandbox for fintech.”

In a separate ranking as part of the same Startup Genome report, Bahrain and Riyadh were also listed as top FinTech ecosystems to watch globally. They appeared as the only two GCC ecosystems in that ranking, alongside other emerging destinations including Japanese capital Tokyo, Melbourne in Australia and Germany’s Frankfurt. In the wider Middle East region, Cairo was also included in the list.

“Our ranking as one of the top FinTech ecosystems to watch is testament to Team Bahrain’s years of hard work building an environment that empowers firms of all sizes to rapidly bring new ideas to market,” said Dalal Buhejji, director, Business Development – Financial Services at Bahrain Economic Development Board.

“Our financial services sector is one of the most established in the Gulf region, and we have capitalised on that expertise to enable a shift towards digitalisation – something that has been of particular interest among traditional financial institutions during the global pandemic,” he added.

Read: Bahrain’s Investcorp invests in India’s Xpressbees

Bahrain’s Labour Fund Tamkeen remains a major source of government funding, including financial grants and subsidies. Tamkeen is part of a Bahrain-wide support structure for start-ups that includes Startup Bahrain, a community-led initiative, local angel networks like Tenmou, accelerators like Flat6Labs and BRINC, VCs like Middle East Venture Partners and 500 Start-ups, and local $100m Fund of Funds Al Waha.

“Bahrain has within a short period established itself as an innovative FinTech hub, building on its track record as a financial centre, and adopting enabling regulations. Bahrain is committed to nurturing new talent for this innovative sector,” said Dr. Ebrahim Janahi, chief executive of Labour Fund Tamkeen.

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