March 1, 2019
BENEFIT, the leading electronic financial transactions network, announced at a press conference held recently at Wyndham Grand Hotel, the launch of the new national Electronic Know Your Client (eKYC) Project, which is the first of its kind in the Arab World, targeting retail banks, financial services providers and money exchange networks.
BENEFIT will implement the eKYC Project in the second quarter of this year in collaboration with the Information and eGovernment Authority (IGA) under the supervision of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB). The Project is intended to provide an advanced state of the art electronic platform and a database for financial institutions to authenticate the identities of their clients and validate their information before granting financial services.
The Project also aspires to help financial technology (FinTech) companies offering financial and banking products using online applications, and facilitate the launch of their products and services. This is in compliance with CBB’s instructions to the financial sector to use financial services technology. It is also in line with the guidance of the Economic Development Board (EDB) to promote FinTech as a promising economic sector.
Indian FinTech companies looking to expand out of their home market can use the new eKYC Project to establish and grow their operations in the Middle East. Bahrain is the perfect gateway for Indian companies wanting to enter the $1.5 trillion Gulf Cooperation Council marketplace, thanks to its lower cost of doing business; ease of commercial operation and agile regulatory system.
The relatively lower cost of doing business in this region as also access to the larger GCC market, also makes this an attractive opportunity for businesses from India.
On this occasion, BENEFIT’s Chief Executive Officer Abdulwahid Janahi said that, “The Project targets retail banks to facilitate the opening of retail accounts and keep abreast of the state of the art, as the system will enable clients to self-enrol and complete their transactions with ease.”
Janahi also explained during the press conference that, “BENEFIT will provide financial institutions in Bahrain with a complete web portal allowing identity authentication, as well as mobile applications, thus augmenting the Kingdom’s electronic systems in line with Bahrain’s Vision 2030.”
“The eKYC Project provides unique features to BENEFIT clients, namely the promotion of digitalization, as well as user-friendly features, lower cost and less time and effort in collecting data under a single platform, in addition to providing data from reliable government sources and thus minimizing fraud.”
“BENEFIT continues to provide an outstanding variety of electronic services to support the transformation to electronic payments and transfers, thus developing services provided to the business sector and saving effort, time and money,” Janahi added. He also thanked all stakeholders for their support of the Project.
Mr. Khalid Hamad Executive Director – Banking Supervision (CBB) stated that the Project allows the client identity authentication and KYC information display and validation. It will also facilitate self-enrollment by the client to upload additional information and apply for financial services through electronic channels. The service combines obtaining information from officially accredited sources, in addition to the implementation of the Blockchain technology for data which is not available, and as such provide a total and complete model for all data needed by financial institutions.
On another note, the CBB continues to draft electronic financial services related legislations and regulations for the benefit of clients and banks alike. The CBB will always be the first to support of technological advancement and will endeavor to provide more services with maximum ease and minimum cost.
Mr. Mohammed Ali Al Qaed Chief Executive, Information & eGovernment Authority (IGA), acknowledged that, “IGA had already started to provide identity authentication services to the public sector, and this Project complements its endeavors by starting to provide the service to key components of the private sector, particularly the banking sector which is one of the most important focus sectors of Bahrain’s 2030 strategy”, adding that “this service will allow the sector to start providing innovative and quality services to promote the Kingdom’s economic development and expand its business activity. BENEFIT was selected as the technical partner of choice for the platform. It will manage an intermediate gateway between data made available by the IGA and all banking institutions using the service, instead of implementing wider connection operations with each entity separately.”