National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) has set a significant benchmark in the region’s financial sector by becoming the first bank in Bahrain and the Middle East and North Africa to launch ‘Open banking’ solutions.
Open banking refers to the practice of sharing financial information electronically, securely, and only under conditions that customers approve of. Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow third parties to access financial information efficiently, which promotes the development of new apps and services.
The bank’s new ‘Aggregator’ service was revealed during an exclusive media gathering at Capital Club, in the presence of representatives from the National Bank of Bahrain, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Bahrain and Tarabut Gateway, said a statement from the company.
NBB's Open Banking services, developed by Tarabut Gateway, will be rolled out in phases, with account aggregation being the first. Initially, NBB’s customers will be able to view and track their finances across all their accounts. Financial transactions and fully-fledged services will be enabled as a follow up stage, said a statement.
NBB has spearheaded the development of Open Banking technologies following the regulatory mandates set by the CBB in November 2018 which urged all banks in the kingdom to adopt Open Banking in line with its long term vision for customer transparency, efficiency and an enhanced experience.
NBB has since taken the lead and invested heavily in the development of the necessary systems to meet and exceed the regulatory requirements, fuelled by its strategic focus to transform and diversify its business through digital innovation that empowers the customer and supports the kingdom’s national efforts to progress as a digital economy and solidify its standing as a Fintech Hub, it added.
Following NBB’s partnership with Tarabut Gateway - Bahrain’s first licensed Open Banking fintech provider - earlier this year which paved the way for the innovation of technologies to enable the bank to deliver secure Open Banking solutions to its customers, NBB has activated the first phase of its account aggregation services through its online app.
Speaking on the impact of this milestone to Bahrain’s economy, Khalid Humaidan, CEO, EDB, said: “Bahrain has been renowned as a progressive nation with a solid business environment; yet today, the country is also gaining recognition for the significant headway in the adoption of digital technologies and Fintech innovation, and for empowering talent through a conducive start-up ecosystem to evolve its digital standing to fuel economic growth.
“By setting the standards for Open Banking in the region, Bahrain has once again successfully risen to the challenge, proving its great potential as an attractive, forward-thinking, digitally advanced investment location. I would like to congratulate NBB for pushing the industry’s boundaries and showcasing the strength of our national assets,” he added.
Jean-Christophe Durand, CEO, NBB, said: “This is a proud moment for our bank as we lead the industry into the future of banking. Today, we have taken a considerable step into the next wave of innovation in the digital economy, setting a solid foundation for the nationwide implementation of Open Banking and further supporting the government’s vision to strengthen Bahrain’s positioning as a global Fintech Hub.”
“Our biggest accomplishment is that we achieved this feat in less than a year thanks to the guidance and support of the CBB, the efforts of Tarabut and the passion, determination and hard work of our NBB team,” he said.
“Our bank has invested significantly in the requisite systems and infrastructure to enable us to launch the ‘Aggregator’ service; our efforts have been powered by our overriding vision to set new standards in digital banking services and deliver immediate value to our customers. I would like to thank all our partners for their support and look forward to our close cooperation with the industry players to see this service operate to its full potential,” he added.
NBB’s new Aggregation service will make banking more accessible and convenient for customers by granting them a holistic view of their finances and eventually enabling them to make instant transactions and informed decisions on competitive products and services that best suit their needs, with the click of a button.
Abdulla Almoayed, CEO, Tarabut Gateway, said: “This achievement is a testament to the Government of Bahrain’s vision to cement our country as a regional powerhouse in FinTech. We are delighted to be the first licensed Open Banking platform in Middle East and North Africa (Mena).”
“With Tarabut Gateway, pioneers in the financial services sector, such as NBB will now be able to provide bespoke Open Banking services to their customers,” he said.
“NBB’s launch of its aggregation service marks a new era for Bahrain’s banking sector and sets new standards in digital banking services which will elevate the customer experience. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to everyone who has joined us on this exciting journey,” he added.
When asked about the security issues that could be faced by the use of this service, officals noted that Open Banking is built on CBB’s regulatory guidelines which put the customer rights and security as a primary focus; no customer data can be accessed by third parties without proper licensing and customer consent.
Yasmeen Al Sharaf, head of Fintech and Innovation Unit, CBB, said: “When it comes to customers' usage of Open Banking, it’s a very new concept. What we need now in Bahrain is more awareness and education on Open Banking as a service in order to get people more ready for using such services.”
NBB customers wishing to benefit from this service can download the NBB Open Banking App and registering online, free of charge. – TradeArabia News Service