Bahrain is interested in adopting digital currencies like bitcoin amid a wider impetus toward a ‘country level’ adoption of blockchain technologies.
The Kingdom of Bahrain, a constitutional monarchy of over 30 islands in the Persian Gulf, is taking a bitcoin-friendly approach in its advent to become a FinTech hub in the region.
Speaking at the MIT Innovation Forum in Bahrain’s capital of Manama on Wednesday, Khalid Al Rumaihi, chief executive of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board revealed plans toward installing a regulatory sandbox in the country. The EDB is a government agency tasked to plan and implement the country’s economic development strategy.
In response to a query about cryptocurrencies at the event, Al Rumaihi was reported by The Hindu Business Line as stating: “We are open to Bitcoins.”
Notably, Al Rumaihi indicated that Bahrain’s Finance Ministry – the country’s financial regulator and watchdog – was also keen on adopting digital currencies like bitcoin.
Intriguingly, the government official revealed that a bitcoin exchange operator in Saudi Arabia made inquires toward establishing a bitcoin exchange in Bahrain. “We are working with the Central Bank of Bahrain on this,” Al Rumaihi added.
Furthermore, he also revealed the extent to which Bahrain could adopt and use digital currencies by suggesting that Bahrain could also issue bonds on a digital currency.
All digital currency-related developments in the private sector would occur in a regulatory sandbox recently unveiled by the country’s central bank, a move toward endearing itself as the FinTech hub in the region.
Al Rumaihi stated: “This [regulatory sandbox] is much like Singapore and what the UK is looking at. This is not just talk. We have launched it. You can go to the website and [the] application process is clear. We are open for business.
As CCN reported in February this year, Bahrain unveiled grand plans in targeting a systemic, nationwide adoption of blockchain technologies.”
Speaking at the time, Al Rumaihi said: “The ability for blockchain to be adopted at [a] country level is a huge opportunity for Bahrain to move into the spotlight as a pioneer in this space.”
The following month, Bahrain signed a FinTech pact with Singapore, widely seen as the foremost FinTech hubs in the world. The Middle Eastern monarchy is tapping Singapore’s expertise in financial technologies to establish its own FinTech ecosystem in the region, complete with its own regulatory sandbox.
Bahrain’s bitcoin-friendly stance proves contrary to recently publicized statements by JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon, who has repeatedly claimed that governments will put the brakes on bitcoin.