Roland Berger joins Bahrain FinTech Bay as founding partner

07 March 2018

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.

EY launches advanced tool to assess trustworthiness of AI technology

12 April 2019

Global professional services firm Ernst & Young has announced the release of an advanced analytical tool to assess the trustworthiness of artificial intelligence.

Enabled by Microsoft Azure, the EY Trusted AI platform released by the global professional services firm Ernst & Young produces a technical score of an artificial intelligence system by leveraging advanced analytics to evaluate its technical design, measuring risk drivers including its “objective, underlying technologies, technical operating environment and level of autonomy compared with human oversight.”

Aimed at helping to resolve the issue of trust in technology, which the firm contends is the biggest barrier to wider AI adoption, the new tool’s risk scoring model is based on the ‘EY Trusted AI conceptual framework’ launched last year, which speaks to embedding trust mechanisms in an AI system at the earliest stages around the core pillars of ethics, social responsibility, accountability and explainability, and reliability.

“Trust must be a front-line consideration, rather than a box to check after an AI system goes live,” said Keith Strier, EY’s Global Advisory Leader for Artificial Intelligence. “Unlike traditional software, which can be fixed, tested and patched, if a neural network is trained on biased data, it may be impossible to fix, and the entire investment could be lost.”AI system overviewUsers of the new solution such as AI developers, executive sponsors, and risk professionals will be able to garner deeper insights into a given AI system to better identify and mitigate risks unique to artificial intelligence technology, with the platform score produced by the tool subject to a complex multiplier based on the impact on users – taking into account potential unintended consequences such as social and ethical implications.

According to the firm, it’s the first solution designed to help enterprises evaluate, monitor and quantify the impact and trustworthiness of AI, while an evaluation of governance and control maturity further serves to reduce residual risks and allow greater planning – helping to safeguard “products, brands, relationships and reputations” in the contemporary risk environment.

“If AI is to reach its full potential, we need a more granular view – the ability to predict conditions that amplify risks and then target mitigation strategies for risks that may undermine trust, while still considering traditional system risks such as reliability, performance and security,” said EY Global Trusted Artificial Intelligence Advisory Leader Cathy Cobey.

Offered as a standalone or managed service – which will be regularly updated with new AI risk metrics, measurement techniques and monitoring tools – the new solution will be available to clients globally this year, with further features including a guided interactive, web-based interface and a function to drill down for additional detail, as well as the ability to perform dynamic risk forecasting on when an AI component changes – such as an agent’s functional capabilities or level of autonomy.