Bahrain Welcomes Singapore’s Whampoa Group’s New Digital Bank Initiative

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (Bahrain EDB) announced that Singapore-based Whampoa Group has selected Bahrain to be the headquarters of its new digital bank. With an intended launch date of end of 2023, the digital bank aims to provide secure and integrated financial solutions to serve institutions, innovators, and sophisticated investors globally, including digital banking services and the trading, custody, and asset management of digital assets; with the ultimate objective of supporting the growing adoption of digital assets worldwide.

Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “We are delighted that Whampoa Group intends to set up the headquarters of their new digital bank in Bahrain as they would benefit from Bahrain’s pro-innovation environment and forward-looking regulatory framework. The establishment of these types of institutions are vital to further strengthen the existing digital assets industry and this milestone opportunity directly aligns with Bahrain’s Economic Recovery Plan, which prioritises digitisation across the financial services sector.”

Shawn Chan, Group Chief Executive Officer of Whampoa Group, expressed his excitement to launch the bank in the Kingdom of Bahrain, commenting: “We were impressed by Bahrain’s solid reputation in the financial services sector, transparent regulatory framework, and ongoing pledge to collaborate and innovate. We are committed to providing secure and innovative digital financial solutions in line with global best practices and are confident that our digital bank will set a new benchmark for the industry. Whampoa is grateful for the support from the Bahrain EDB and the broader Team Bahrain ecosystem throughout the entire process.”

Bahrain, a pioneering hub for digital asset regulation among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, was among the first to issue crypto-asset licenses in the region, cementing itself as a leading hub for crypto services and fintech innovations in the region. The Kingdom’s well-established financial services and innovation hub, fast-growing diversified economy, and strategic location at the heart of the Arabian Gulf make it an ideal destination for the new digital bank. Bahrain’s financial services sector, which contributes 17.5% to the GDP, remains the highest contributor to the economy, surpassing oil and actively supporting economic diversification.

Mr. Chan added that the long-term outlook for digital assets remains bright as blockchain and other Web 3.0 technologies continue to drive the next evolution of the internet.
He noted that a World Economic Forum survey showed that 58% of 800 respondents expected up to 10% of global GDP would be stored and transacted via distributed ledger technology by 2027, and that the global tokenised market would potentially be worth as much as US$24 trillion by 2027. The number of crypto users, estimated currently at 320 million, is also slated to grow to as many as one billion by 2030, with 75% of merchants expected to accept cryptocurrency payments within the next two years.

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