Industry Trend Analysis - Mobile Wallet Launch Reflects Bahrain's Fintech Ambitions - SEPT 2017

BMI View : Bahrain is ceding ground to Dubai as a regional hub for financial services and must turn to digital technology if it is to remain relevant. A new mobile wallet partnership announced by Batelco is the latest in a series of developments demonstrating the country ' s efforts to turn fintech to its advantage.

Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Arab Financial Services (AFS) to deploy a mobile wallet solution for its 1.14mn mobile customers. The tool will offer a range of integrated and secure features such as peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfers and loyalty points linked to major brands. Access will be through quick response (QR) codes that will work on a wide range of smart devices, particularly 3G/4G-enabled smartphones. Ubiquitous 3G/4G connectivity in Bahrain provides the foundations for rapid take-up.

Basic mobile financial services (MFS) are widely used across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia but are yet to see significant adoption in the Middle East, owing to easy access to physical banks and high penetration of credit and debit cards. Many active payment cards already support near field communication (NFC) 'contactless' technology, but mobile payment adds an extra layer of security and convenience. The involvement of incumbent Batelco - which is also active in the wireline, broadband and pay-TV markets - means that hundreds of thousands of non-mobile customers can also be targeted, widening the service's addressable market.

Ubiquitous 3G/4G To Aid MFS Adoption
Bahrain Mobile Sector Forecasts
f = BMI forecast: Source: BMI, Operators, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority

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