Following the announcement of the national digital identity and the electronic Know-Your-Customer (eKYC) platform in April 2019, the Central Bank of Bahrain (“CBB”) has announced the successful launch of eKYC by financial institutions in the Kingdom as part of its initiatives for digital transformation in the sector.
The national eKYC platform, which was the first of its kind in the region targeting retail banks, financial services providers and money exchange networks, is operated by BENEFIT in collaboration with the Information and eGovernment Authority (IGA) and under the supervision of the CBB.
The platform provides a national digital identity database for financial institutions to securely verify the identities of their customers, validate their information and share data digitally before providing products and services. This includes retrieval of customer data from governmental entities including IGA. BENEFIT has also developed the Application Programming Interface (“API”) for the platform, which allows for seamless integration with financial institutions core systems, digital channels and mobile apps. With the introduction of Open Banking in Bahrain, this also provides an opportunity for fintech companies to verify customers identities through their online and mobile applications.
On this occasion, Mr. Khalid Al Hamad, Executive Director of Banking Supervision at the CBB said “The CBB urges all licensed financial institutions to avail of this innovative and streamlined service and accelerate its efforts towards automating the maintenance of its customer data and reputation records, by implementing eKYC API integration with their core systems, digital channels and mobile apps. We continue to support technological advancement in the sector to minimize cost while also fostering innovation and integration between financial institutions and fintech companies. This is also in line with the CBB’s continuous efforts in developing the financial sector infrastructure in light of the Covid-19 repercussions to ensure appropriate solutions for electronic payment systems.”
BENEFIT’s Chief Executive Officer Abdulwahid Janahi said “It gives us great pleasure to continue developing the eKYC platform in an effort to drive digital transformation in the Kingdom’s various sectors. We have succeeded in enabling the integration of this digital platform into core banking systems and smart phone applications, and we are pleased to announce that Bahrain Islamic Bank has successfully integrated this platform into its core banking services system, while “ila” Bank offers customer on-boarding in a completely digital and autonomous manner through its mobile app, both based on eKYC API integration. We look forward to the use of eKYC services on a larger scale during the coming period.”
The VCE of eTransformation in the Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA), Dr.Zakareya Ahmed Alkhaja, confirmed that iGA cooperated with “BENEFIT” that implemented the technical development of the project, under the supervision of CBB. The project aims to provide an advanced comprehensive eSystem for financial entities to verify the identity of their customers and the validity of the information, before providing the financial services.
He pointed out that the authority has started providing identity verification services to the government sector, and this project complements providing the services to the private sectors, especially the banking sector, as the project will allow the it to start providing innovative, high-quality, secure data services that keep the privacy of individuals. That will lead to enhance economic growth and expand commercial activities in the Kingdom.
He expressed his pride that the (eKYC) project is the first of its kind in the region and the first at the level of global applications in terms of cooperation between the government and the banking sector, as the implementation of projects globally is limited to cooperation between banks in the private sector. This project is also one of the first Projects using Block Chain technology in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
It is noteworthy that this project is a result of signing MOU between a number of concerned parties, which contributes keeping the Kingdom in line with the global trend towards the digital economy.