Bahrain based ABC bank after two years of piloting, J.P. Morgan’s Coin Systems, a blockchain based permissioned system that serves as a payment rail and deposit account ledger and sits within Onyx by J.P. Morgan has gone live with the blockchain payments solution.

Prior to this ABC bank had been piloting GCC region’s first blockchain based cross border instant payment solutions as well as CBDC project with the Central Bank of Bahrain. In 2020 The Central Bank of Bahrain collaborated with J P Morgan and Bank ABC in a pilot scheme to introduce instantaneous cross border payment solution leveraging state of the art technology and digital currency. The pilot was successfully completed in 2022. 

As such the soft launch of the new blockchain payment service by ABC Bank, is in close collaboration with the Central Bank of Bahrain.  The Central Bank of Bahrain has supported the project by integrating and scaling the blockchain payments solution within the Kingddom’s payments landscape.

On this occasion, His Excellency the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, Mr. Rasheed AlMaraj, stated, “After working closely with JP Morgan and Bank ABC over the past two years to experiment the execution of cross-border commercial transactions between Bahrain and the U.S., leveraging the J.P. Morgan Coin System, we are pleased to witness the soft launch of this innovative banking solution by a Bahraini-based bank.  This initiative aligns with the CBB’s strategic vision to embrace innovation and digitalize the Kingdom’s financial services sector by eliminating inefficiencies that exist in traditional cross-border payment railways, facilitating trade between Bahrain and the U.S., and thereby inducing economic activity. We commend Bank ABC on their commitment to enhance their banking offerings by leveraging advanced global technologies.”

Mr. Sael Al Waary, Bank ABC Group CEO, said: “As an international bank operating across five continents, Bank ABC Group is committed to introducing innovative products to our home market and across our wider network. Offering high-value cross-border payments via the J.P. Morgan Coin Systems service, allows us to reduce traditional settlement periods considerably as well as being more cost-effective for our clients. We remain steadfast as a key enabler of Bahrain’s vision for a digital economy. We would like to thank our partners the Central Bank of Bahrain for their commitment and leadership and J.P. Morgan for their leading role in advancing cross-border payments for banking services.”

Naveen Mallela, Global Head of Onyx Coin Systems, said “Bank ABC has been one of the earliest adopters of the JPM Coin offering and we are delighted to launch the first of its kind commercial payment offering between J.P. Morgan and Bank ABC using distributed ledger rails. This enables cross-border commercial transactions to be executed between Bahrain and US corridors instantly, atomically and with certainty.”

While the offering has been launched with USD and locations involving Bahrain, US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, additional locations and currencies, notably Euro, are in the pipeline. Going forward with the planned introduction of programmable payment offerings, it will enable mutual corporate clients to leverage event driven and automated payouts enabling a dynamic and real time treasury management.

Bahrain Central Bank has announced the issuance of regulation for security tokens as amendments to its current crypto asset module.

The Central Bank has expanded the crypto asset regulations to include digital token offerings, in specific those with the characteristics of security tokens.

In determining whether a digital token qualifies as a security, the CBB will examine the underlying economic purpose of the digital token, its structure, characteristics, as well as the rights attached to the digital token.

The new amendments also outline new requirements to enhance safeguarding clients’ assets to provide high levels of protection for investors.

In addition the Central Bank of Bahrain will allow crypto-assets licensees (after obtaining the CBB’s approval) to engage in additional activities, which are not within the stipulated regulated crypto-asset services.

 Commenting on the new amendments, Director of the Capital Markets Supervision Directorate – Mrs. Abeer Al Saad, stated,  “We at the CBB are delighted to issue the new amendments to our regulatory framework for crypto-assets and to specifically introduce new regulatory requirements for the digital tokens offerings, in order to regulate the crypto-assets market in a fair and transparent manner. Therefore, the CBB has adopted a risk-based regulatory approach towards requirements, which are proportionate and commensurate to the regulated activity undertaken by a licensee. We endeavour to provide adequate safeguards to investors without inhibiting innovation adoption at the CBB, as we continue to monitor market trends and review the regulatory framework to keep up with the latest developments in the field, as well as maintain the competitiveness of the sector. This milestone is a reflection of the pioneering role the CBB continues to play in regulating crypto-assets.”

Bahrain was the first country in the GCC region to regulate crypto allowing for the launch of crypto exchange brokers such as RAIN, CoinMENA, and most recently Binance. It is also one of the leading GCC and MENA countries when it comes to crypto payments.

The new amendments are also a first in the region, no other country has regulated security tokens onshore yet!

OpenNode, a “Bitcoin-as-a-payment-network” infrastructure company, has started testing a Bitcoin payment processing and payout solution in Bahrain, with the Central Bank of Bahrain’s regulatory Sandbox.

OpenNode intends to provide the infrastructure to help the country grow its economy and will showcase why Bitcoin is synonymous with better business.

Bahrain was one of the first to grant a crypto exchange license to RAIN crypto exchange and since then has accepted in Binance and others.

The CBB authorized OpenNode to participate in the new Regulatory Sandbox Framework that allows FinTech firms to test their ideas and solutions in the Kingdom.

OpenNode intends to bring payment innovation to Bahrain in using Bitcoin. 

Afnan Rahman, CEO and Co-Founder at OpenNode, stated”This is a watershed moment for the people of Bahrain, the Middle East and the Bitcoin economy as a whole. OpenNode’s leading Bitcoin infrastructure solution continues to pave the way for countries, governments and reputable financial institutions to adopt the Bitcoin standard and transact on the lightning network.”

OpenNode  is currently active in more than 160 countries around the world.

Dalal Buhejji, Executive Director – Investment Development for Financial Services at the Bahrain Economic Development Board said, “We are proud to have worked with the Central Bank towards establishing a strong financial services ecosystem within the Kingdom of Bahrain. As a country, we have always been ahead of the curve in adopting Fintech solutions thanks to our regulator’s flexibility and forward thinking. Financial services is an important sector within our economy, and fintech platforms such as the one soon to be tested by OpenNode are essential to ensure we continue to innovate while simultaneously adhering to best regulatory measures.”