One Gulf State Has Taken A Giant Payments Leap

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The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) is working with financial network BENEFIT to launch a national electronic wallet by the end of June this year.

The wallet will enable instant payments via smartphones and will facilitate the collection of payments electronically through debit, credit and prepaid cards and online bank accounts, for online and in-store purchases.

Customers will also be able to transfer funds using the wallet for Fawri, Fawri Plus, online bill payment and other types of payment services that will be available in future.

The national electronic wallet is a joint initiative of CBB and BENEFIT, which is operated by The Benefit Company (TBC), a firm that handles ATM and POS transactions in Bahrain.

Established in 1997 with a special license from CBB as a provider of ancillary services to the financial sector, BENEFIT is the only financial network in Bahrain.

The national electronic wallet serves as an important step in enhancing the financial sector by providing payment solutions aimed at both public and private sectors in the Kingdom, said Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, executive director of banking operations at CBB.

The payments solutions space in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is set to see significant growth on the back the momentum in the financial technology (fintech) segment, according to a recent report by payment service provider PAYFORT and entrepreneurship-focused platform Wamda.

The growth will be driven by a large unbanked population, venture capital inflows and the rapid emergence of a host of new startups.

As the volume of e-commerce in the region is set to quadruple over five years, the payment sector stands to benefit along with other fintech segments such as crowdfunding.

The growth is expected to be robust especially in the UAE which is the most dynamic hub in MENA, with a four-year compound annual rate of almost 60%.