April 09, 2014
Manama: The Economic Development Board (EDB) participated in the Arabian Banking Technology Exhibition and Conference (ABTEC) 2014 which is being held at the Bahrain International Centre for Exhibitions and Conference between April 8th and 9th.
The event is considered one of the regionally pioneering platforms that links the finance and technology sectors in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, representing the largest gathering for experts in the field of financial technology. It is the result of an important initiative launched by the National Innovation Society, and is supported by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and the EDB.
EDB Chief Economist, Dr Jarmo Kotilaine, delivered presentation entitled “Current trends in the regional financial services sector”, where he discussed the economic, regulatory, and market developments shaping the banking sector in the Middle East.
The seminar highlighted the importance of structural economic drivers in ensuring positive growth and fueling the demand for financial services. Key factors in this regard include demographic dynamics, economic diversification, and the establishment of large scale infrastructure projects, as well as the government’s role in this sector. Among other things, Dr Kotilaine shed light on the decreasing contribution of the non-hydrocarbons sector in the country’s GDP, which accounts for less than 20% while virtually all other sectors have expanded.
Also explored were the effects of regulation and policies in the financial sector, with the stricter regulations that were recently introduced in the sector in response to the global crisis being highlighted. New regulatory reforms, , most notably the Basel III standards, play an important role in forcing banks to adjust their operations. This has fueled the demand for alternative fnding solutions. Also the rise of Sharia compliant transactions highlights the ongoing process of diversification and innovation in the sector.
Dr Kotilaine also described the banks’ role in the region as having gradually become less central, while the role of capital markets have grown rapidly, especially with respect to fixed income markets. This is in line with the development of the financial services’ products through the launch of long term savings, SME lending, and mortgages, as well as the changing role of foreign providers as European banks retreat from syndicated loans field.
This year’s ABTEC 2014 is being held under the theme “Turning digital disruption into transformational opportunities”, with various initiatives being discussed on the ways for financial institutions to reinvent their business models to present more digital value
The EDB has a long-standing history of supporting events that discusses the financial services sector such as the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC), with the latest being held in December last year.
Further information please contact:
Economic Development Board
Tel: +973 17 589 966