Bahrain launches First Open Banking Solutions in MENA

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By Fatima Al Najem

Manama, Dec. 3 (BNA): A significant benchmark in the region’s financial sector has been made.

National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) has become the first bank in Bahrain and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to launch Open Banking Solutions.

The bank’s new ‘Aggregator’ service was revealed today in the presence of representatives from the NBB, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), the Economic Development Board of Bahrain (EDB) and Tarabut Gateway.

NBB has spearheaded the development of Open Banking technologies following the regulatory mandates set by the CBB in November 2018 which urged all banks in the Kingdom to adopt Open Banking in line with its long term vision for customer transparency, efficiency and an enhanced experience.

NBB has invested heavily in the development of the necessary systems to meet and exceed the regulatory requirements, fueled by its strategic focus to transform and diversify its business through digital innovation that empowers the customer and supports Bahrain’s national efforts to progress as a digital economy and solidify its standing as a Fintech Hub.

Tarabut Gateway - Bahrain’s first licensed Open Banking fintech provider - earlier this year paved the way for the innovation of technologies to enable the Bank to deliver secure Open Banking solutions to its customers.

“NBB pushes to embrace the innovation, that’s why they took the risk to be the first Bahraini bank attracting this project,” Abdullah Al Moayed, Tarabut CEO, said.

NBB has activated the first phase of its account aggregation services through its online App.

“We have a high security mechanism from a government regulatory which is CBB,” he added.

Open Banking is built on CBB’s regulatory guidelines which put the customer rights and security as a primary focus; no customer data can be accessed by third parties without proper licensing and customer consent.

“Bahrain has been renowned as a progressive nation with a solid business environment; yet today, the country is also gaining recognition for the significant headway in the adoption of digital technologies and Fintech innovation, and for empowering talent through a conducive start-up ecosystem to evolve its digital standing to fuel economic growth,” Khalid Humaidan, CEO of EDB Board, said.

“By setting the standards for Open Banking in the region, Bahrain has once again successfully risen to the challenge, proving its great potential as an attractive, forward-thinking, digitally advanced investment location. I would like to congratulate NBB for pushing the industry’s boundaries and showcasing the strength of our national assets.”

The Open Banking services developed by Tarabut Gateway will be rolled out in phases, with Account aggregation being the first. Initially, NBB’s customers will be able to view and track their finances across all their accounts. Financial transactions and fully-fledged services will be enabled as a follow up stage.

“This is a proud moment for NBB as we lead the industry into the future of banking. Today, we have taken a considerable step into the next wave of innovation in the digital economy, setting a solid foundation for the nationwide implementation of Open Banking and further supporting the government’s vision to strengthen Bahrain’s positioning as a global Fintech Hub,” said Jean-Christophe Durand, NBB CEO.

“Our biggest accomplishment is that we achieved this feat in less than a year thanks to the guidance and support of the CBB, the efforts of Tarabut and the passion, determination and hard work of our NBB team,” Durand added.

NBB’s new Aggregation service will make banking more accessible and convenient for customers by granting them a holistic view of their finances and eventually enabling them to make instant transactions and informed decisions on competitive products and services that best suit their needs, with the click of a button.

“This achievement is a testament to the Government of Bahrain’s vision to cement our country as a regional powerhouse in FinTech,” Al Moayed said.

“We are delighted to be the first licensed Open Banking platform in Middle East and North Africa (MENA). With Tarabut Gateway, pioneers in the financial services sector, such as NBB will now be able to provide bespoke Open Banking services to their customers.”