Bahrain to Provide Fast-Track Setup Program for Fintech Startups

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) has introduced a new program to attract more startups to the country.
According to a press release on Oct. 29, the investment promotion agency for the Kingdom of Bahrain has introduced a fast-track setup program for startups looking to do business there.
The new initiative will provide an expedited entry process covering visa requirements, residency and business registration processes. It also offers guidance from the country’s incubators and accelerators, as well as access to grants and financial supports. 
In its statement, the EDB lauds Bahrain as a better place to do business than its neighbors and notes its accepting policy toward the cryptocurrency and open banking industries. The EDB stated:

“The Kingdom’s pioneering, agile and flexible regulatory framework allows it to regulate emerging technologies – such as open banking and cryptocurrencies – in a way other jurisdictions simply cannot. Thanks to this, Bahrain has earned a reputation as the region’s de facto test-bed for cutting edge technologies.”

Middle Eastern countries look to blockchain in pivot away from hydrocarbons
Various countries in the Middle East are competing to become the leading tech hub of the area as economic planning authorities diversify their respective national economies beyond hydrocarbons like oil and gas. 
The United Arab Emirates has been actively pursuing development in blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies. In October, the country’s Securities and Commodities Authority drafted a resolution on regulating crypto assets, which will purportedly provide more clarity for crypto-related projects in the country.
In September, the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention launched a blockchain system for recording and sharing healthcare data.
Dubai introduced its Dubai Blockchain Strategy 2020, in which it sets goals to become the first “blockchain-powered” city by that year. As part of that goal, the Department of Economic Development in Dubai announced its move to a blockchain-based unified business registry platform earlier last month.
In February 2019, the Central Bank of Bahrain introduced a regulatory sandbox for blockchain firms to experiment and develop new concepts without worrying about compliance issues. That same month, Shariah-compliant cryptocurrency exchange Rain became the first digital asset exchange to complete the sandbox.

China’s Central Bank Introduces Certification System for Fintech Products

China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), will use a new system to certify 11 types of fintech hardware and software products relating to digital payments. 
On Oct. 29, the PBoC alongside China’s market regulator, the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion for Mar­ket Reg­u­la­tion (SAMR), jointly released a set of documents for the new nationwide Certification of Fintech Products (CFP) system. The documents include definitions of fintech products that require certification as well as rules for its proceedings.
The listed products include em­bed­ded ap­pli­ca­tion soft­ware, cloud computing platforms, user front-end software, security carriers and chips, as well as point of sale terminals and ATMs.
In the document titled “Fintech Product Certification Rules,” the PBoC and SAMR stated that, in order to obtain a CFP certificate from the central bank, applicants will have to pass a prototype examination as well as on-site inspections.
The certificate is valid for 3 years and requires a renewal after the expiration date, the authorities noted. During the validity period, CFP bearers will have to pass random inspections at any stage of the production process, the document says.
Additionally, CFP carriers will be prohibited from using certification for advertising purposes, while incorporation of the certificate to their logo is authorized.
PBoC denies digital renminbi launch readiness 
The new announcement of China’s central bank comes just a month after the bank publicly denied reports that its central bank digital currency (CBDC), a digital renminbi, was about to launch. On Sept. 24, the PBoC claimed that the financial institution needs time for research, revealing that there is no specific timetable for the CBDC launch.
On Oct. 28, China recorded a sharp growth of interest in blockchain technology after President Xi Jinping called for faster adoption of blockchain tech. Earlier today, Cointelegraph reported that the Guangzhou government formed a new $140 million subsidy fund in order to encourage the development of blockchain initiatives.