European fintech ecosystem builder finleap entered into a strategic partnership with Bahraini telecoms company Batelco, according to an announcement earlier this week. The partnership is aimed at promoting open banking in the MENA region.
Batelco recently became the first GCC-based company to secure an open banking license. The partnership will see finleap connect extend its open banking technology and digital frontend application to the newly formed Batelco Financial Services.
Based on this, Batelco Financial Services will be launching its own open banking platform built on finleap connect’s technology. Batelco Financial Services aims to offer “a state-of-the-art financial service platform,” with an integrated banking experience, the statement said.
“We are excited to jointly drive Batelco’s fintech strategy execution by leveraging one of our most powerful platforms, finleap connect, as well as our tech delivery unit finbyte,”
finleap’s Head of Innovation, Enrico Ohnemueller, said.
Batelco Financial Services will soon be offering digital financial services and open banking in the MENA region, including digital wallet creation, cards issuance services, bank accounts aggregation and bank account payments initiation, for consumers and SMEs.
Investing in digital solutions and services beyond Batelco’s core telecommunications business is one of its key diversification strategies, Roberto Mancone, CEO and Executive Board Member, Batelco Financial Services, said.
“Batelco Financial Services aims to become a leader in innovation, and to be at the forefront in creating a seamless digital value-added experience for consumers and SMEs in Bahrain and the GCC.
Through our strategic partnership with finleap and finleap connect, we bring high reliability and scalability in fostering Bahrain’s ongoing growth in sectors directly benefiting customers in the entire MENA region,”
Mancone further said about the partnership.
Open Banking in the MENA region
The Central Bank of Bahrain is keen to promote open banking in the country in a bid to develop its fintech ecosystem. For instance, it issued guidelines under its Open Banking Framework to improve the digital offerings of retail banks.
Elsewhere, initiatives are also underway in Saudi Arabia by Saudi Central Bank SAMA to launch Open Banking in the first half of 2022. In the UAE, 88% of banks are expected to enable open banking by the end of 2021.
At the same time, the rise of open banking will need stronger regulatory support going forward, not to mention the need for industry collaboration, data security, formalised data sharing, and a transformation of legacy banking systems.