After Singapore, Bahrain has evinced interest in India’s retail payment system and has held initial talks with the government for a possible collaboration. This is in line with the recent integration of India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and Singapore’s PayNow payment system.
Last month, UPI and its equivalent network in Singapore, PayNow, were integrated to enable faster remittances between the citizens of the two countries at a highly competitive rate.
“It (UPI-PayNow linkage) is a good example. We have interest in it but we haven’t got to the stage of saying it would be done yet. But initial discussions have happened. I think we would be very interested in benefiting from the similar technology,” Bahrain’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Abdulla Adel Fakhro told The Indian Express.
Fakhro said during the discussion Indian government officials were very open to sharing their experience on the technology. QR code-based merchant payments through UPI apps are already enabled in Bhutan, Singapore and UAE.
Bahrain Economic Development Chief Executive Khalid Humaidan said financial services is an important sector for Bahrain and the country has identified opportunities in the financial services that it wants to focus on over the next few years.
“In our priority list, fintech is at the top. In the world of fintech, payment is very-very important. So, there are multiple conversations with multiple entities in the private and public sectors happening,” Humaidan said.
Fakhro, along with an over 60-member delegation, visited India last week to further increase cooperation and promote investments between the two countries.
“The purpose of the visit is to build and strengthen the relationship between Bahrain and India. Economically, socially and culturally we always had a very strong partnership,” Fakhro said.
In 2022, the bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $1.6 billion, including oil. The non-oil trade was $1.4 billion during the year.
“Hopefully in the next two-three years, I see it (India-Bahrain trades) going up to $2 billion,” Fakhro said
From an investment perspective, Bahrain is looking at investments in all sectors but particularly in industries related to food, manufacturing, information and communications technology (ICT), downstream aluminium, petrochemicals, research and development, Fakhro said. There’s no income tax or corporate tax in Bahrain.
As of the third quarter of 2022, inward foreign direct investment (FDI) stocks of India to Bahrain reached $1.4 billion, accounting for around 4 per cent of Bahrain’s total FDI stock of $33.9 billion
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organised an interaction on accessing MENA opportunities via Bahrain in partnership with Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce and its investment promotion agency Bahrain Economic Development Board.