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    CBB Launches Fintech Challenge, Issues Open Banking Updates

    May 23, 2022

    The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) proposed to amend the cybersecurity requirements, in addition to amending the General Requirements Module of the CBB Rulebook. The central bank also launched its second annual series of nationwide fintech innovation challenges, called the Bahrain Open Banking Supernova 2022.

    The Bahrain Open Banking Supernova 2022 (also Supernova 2022) will be hosted on FinHub 973, the CBB’s Digital Lab,, and the open innovation firm Fintech Galaxy. The Supernova 2022 will see Bahrain-based financial institutions present real market challenges related to financial services, aimed at finding customer-centric solutions revolving around Open Banking use cases. Innovators and fintech start-ups will have access to an API sandbox with 330+ APIs and simulated datasets from local and regional banks to enable rapid and seamless proof of concepts (PoCs). The challenges provide innovators with the ability to accelerate testing of their innovations to enrich the financial services industry in Bahrain with novel solutions across fintech, regtech, and insurtech. Start-ups and tech firms will be able to submit their proposals via the FinHub 973 digital platform, addressing problem statements under the following themes:

    • BENEFIT Company—open banking for consumer lending (pitch competition date May 26, 2022)
    • Bank ABC—autonomous financial advisor leveraging open banking (pitch competition date June 30, 2022)
    • Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB)—Straight-Through Processing solution (pitch competition date July 05, 2022)

    CBB issued amendments to the General Requirements Module of CBB Rulebook for conventional banks (Volume 1) and Islamic banks (Volume 2). CBB issued the amendments, following its observation that companies operating in the CBB’s Regulatory Sandbox as open banking service providers and Account information service providers/payment initiation service providers (AISPs/PISPs) are facing delays and difficulties in accessing the developer portal (testing facility) of retail banks. According to the amendments, conventional and Islamic retail bank licensees must establish and make available a testing facility, in accordance with the operational guidelines included in the Bahrain Open Banking Framework, to the authorized AISPs and PISPs, the companies operating in the CBB’s Regulatory Sandbox as open banking service providers, and the AISPs/PISPs that are granted in-principle confirmation to proceed with the CBB’s licensing process. No sensitive information must be shared through the testing facility. Licensees must display a link to the testing facility on their website.

    CBB proposed amendments to cybersecurity requirements in Volumes 1 to 5 of the CBB Rulebook, regarding the use of e-mail domains and URLs for communication with customers. CBB proposed that licensees must use a single unified private e-mail domain or its subdomains for communication with customers to prevent abuse by third parties. Licensees must not utilize third-party email domains for communication with customers. CBB also proposed that licensees must not use URLs or any other clickable links in SMS, e-mails, or other short messages sent to customers. CBB requested comments on the proposed amendments until June 05, 2022.

     

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    Keywords: Middle East And Africa, Bahrain, Banking, Fintech, Regtech, CBB Rulebook, Islamic Banks, Open Banking, Lending, Regulatory Sandbox, CBB, Cyber Risk

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