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October-December 2019

Interview: Yasmeen Al Sharaf, head of fintech and innovation unit, Central Bank of Bahrain

Yasmeen Al Sharaf graduated from the University of Bahrain with a BSc in banking and finance, and now runs the department focused on developing financial technology (fintech) at Bahrain’s financial regulator, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB). During her 14 years at the CBB, Al Sharaf has held several roles, including one that that involved licensing research and development, where she came into contact with financial services firms trying to set up in Bahrain. She now heads up the CBB’s fintech and innovation unit. The bank is pro-innovation and encourages the development of fintech, and has tasked the unit with establishing an ecosystem in a role that includes overseeing and supervising the CBB’s regulatory sandbox. Al Sharaf says fintech is important to Bahrain because it reduces the country’s economic dependency on oil and gas. “In recent years, Bahrain has expended significant resources on diversifying away from a previous focus on hydrocarbons,” she says. Bahrain already had a good reputation in the Gulf region for ...

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