Bahrain’s national electronic wallet BenefitPay announced a 1257% increase in the number of remittances through its Fawri+ service during the month of March 2020 – worth some BHD 103 million (USD273 million).
A surge in the use of FinTech platforms is expected in the GCC & MENA Region as consumers turn away from physical offerings during the ongoing global COVID-19 outbreak.
David Parker, Co-Chief Investment Officer at Bahrain Economic Development Board, said that online banking and cryptocurrencies are among the products with the biggest increase in transactions.
“At a time when few customers can access physical services, FinTech platforms across the GCC are experiencing a surge in use. That is something we anticipate continuing well into the summer months. “BenefitPay’s significant increase in transactions shows the region’s growing appetite for new technologies, and that being digital-first is no longer optional.
“The spread of COVID-19 has presented enormous challenges for banks, but it also highlights the need for rapid technological transformation and a new wave of innovation through collaboration with the thriving FinTech sector.”
The GCC trend is repeated around the world, with a study by financial advisory firm deVere Group revealing that the use of FinTech apps in Europe grew by 72% in just one week at the start of the crisis.
At the same time, ATM network Link reported that the use of physical cash in the UK decreased by 50% shortly after the government’s declaration of limitations on movement.
According to industry experts, the FinTech market in MENA is set to reach a record high of USD2.5 billion by 2022, with GCC countries playing a significant part in the growth of the sector.
Bahrain is home to the oldest and most established financial center in the Gulf region. The Kingdom currently hosts more than 300 financial institutions, with Bahrainis continuing to play a large role in the financial sector.
Among the most successful FinTech ventures in Bahrain are Sharia-compliant cryptocurrency platform Rain, open banking API provider Tarabut Gateway, NEC Payments and BENEFIT – the parent company of BenefitPay.
The Kingdom offers a strong local test market backed by government initiatives including a regulatory sandbox that allows FinTech firms to explore with new ideas and solutions.
Abdulwahed AlJanahi, Chief Executive of BENEFIT, added: “The remarkable growth of usage of electronic financial payments reflects on the awareness and commitment of our community to take the precautionary measures, reducing paper usage to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.
“We have also witnessed a large number of businesses and home businesses that began providing their customers with the option to pay via BenefitPay, ensuring the success of our national team to limit the spread of this pandemic.”