Roland Berger joins Bahrain FinTech Bay as founding partner

07 March 2018 5 min. read

International strategy consultancy Roland Berger has strengthened its ties to Bahrain by supporting the launch of a new FinTech hub. Bahrain FinTech Bay will see a host of organisations and startups work to drive innovation and create opportunities for growth in Bahrain, as well as in the Middle East region.

Munich head-quartered Roland Berger has 50 offices in 34 countries, the majority of which are in Europe, and employs around 2,400 people. Three of those offices are located within the Middle East, including one in the most populous city of the UAE, Dubai; one in the Lebanese capital Beirut; and a location in Manama, Bahrain, within the 32nd floor of the Almoayyed Tower. The consultancy, one of the top ten strategy consultants in the international consulting landscape, first opened for business in Bahrain in 2006. Since then, the firm has continuously worked to expand operations across the Middle East.

In 2014, this saw then-newly-elected CEO Charles-Edouard Bouée, fresh from his elevation to the top job at Roland Berger, visit Dubai for a series of talks with leaders and top executives. Speaking at the time, he said, "I have strong ambitions for Roland Berger in the Middle-East. I am convinced that our singularity as the only leading global strategy consultancy with German heritage positions us uniquely to provide strategic advisory services to political and business elite in the Gulf.”

Three years later, Bouée visited Bahrain directly, this time for a royal audience with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who is also the tiny nation state’s First Deputy Prime Minister. During the meeting at Gudaibiya Palace, the Crown Prince emphasised Bahrain’s commitment to strengthening the role of the private sector in the Kingdom, before Bouée presented him with Roland Berger’s latest strategy consulting management studies.

Bahrain Fintech Bay

Bahrain FinTech Bay

Now, as the consulting firm looks to strengthen their foothold in the country, which consists of 30 islands in the Arabian Gulf, Roland Berger has joined the Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB) hub for its launch. The firm accompanies a host of fellow founding partners, who represent a broad cross section of Bahraini and global financial services and technology industry leaders. They will collaborate with the BFB, working with established industry leaders and new entrants from Bahrain, the region, and around the world, to drive innovation and create opportunities for growth.

The 10,000 square foot facility includes a variety of shared infrastructure, such as co-working spaces for up to 30 start-ups or 60 individuals. Singapore-based fintech incubator Fintech Consortium (FTC), through its subsidiary FinTech Consortium Bahrain, will be responsible for managing the hub, as well as integrating it into its numerous FinTech platforms, including blockchain, insurance technology and regulatory technology firms (RegTechs). International start-ups already set to gain from the partners’ expertise at the fintech co-working hub include US-based RobustWealth, Offrbox and Sigma Ratings as well as Jordanian start-up Labiba.

The FinTech sector, which leverages a range of new technologies, has resulted in a number of innovative – and potentially disruptive – companies developing propositions, thanks to the continued high demand for financial services. The value of the financial services industry, coupled with the potential for capital light newcomers to bypass incumbents’ dependence on legacy systems – has opened the door for substantial digital disruption in recent years as companies race to get the upper hand among an increasingly competitive global market.

Speaking at the opening, Economic Development Board (EDB) Chief Executive Khalid Al Rumaihi said, “Bahrain FinTech Bay will play a central role in growing the supportive ecosystem that is necessary for innovation to thrive. The facilitation of co-working and incubation, combined with Bahrain’s regulatory sandbox and focus on opening up access to funding, is creating an ideal environment for start-ups and corporates to test and then scale across the region.”

The full list of founding partners is as follows: Arab Financial Services, Ahli United Bank, Al Baraka Banking Group, Al Salam Bank, American Express, Arcapita, Batelco, BBK, Benefit, BFC, Bahrain Insurance Association, Bin Hindi Group, Bahrain Islamic Bank, BNP Paribas, Cisco, Cork Information Technology, GFH Financial Group, Gulf International Bank, Ithmaar Bank, Investcorp, Kuwait Finance House, Microsoft, National Bank of Bahrain, NEC Payments, PayTabs, Payment International Enterprise, Roland Berger and Tap Payments.

Meanwhile in Bahrain's retail sector, a recent report by KPMG has highlighted that despite the market's growth to a value of BHD 2.2 billion, increased focus on tourism will be needed to sustain a bright outlook.