Bahrain is keen to connect UPI to speed up payments between countries

After Singapore, Bahrain has shown interest in India’s retail payments system and has held preliminary talks with the government for possible cooperation. 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, merged to enable faster money transfers between citizens of the two countries at a very competitive rate.

“The UPI-PayNow linkage is a good example. We are interested in it but we are not at the stage of saying it will end yet. But initial discussions have happened. I think we would be very interested in leveraging this technology,” Bahraini Minister of Industry and Commerce Abdullah Adel Fakhro told The Indian Express. .

During the discussion, Fakhro said that Indian government officials are very open to sharing their expertise on the technology. QR code-based merchant payments through UPI apps are already enabled in Bhutan, Singapore and UAE.

Bahrain’s Chief Economic Development Officer, Khalid Humaidan, said that financial services are an important sector for Bahrain and the country has identified opportunities in financial services that it wants to focus on over the next few years.

“In our priority list, fintech is at the top of the list. In the fintech world, payment is critical. So, there are multiple conversations happening with multiple entities in the private and public sectors,” Humaidan said.

Fakhroo, along with a delegation of more than 60 members, visited India last week to increase cooperation and boost investments between the two countries.

The aim of the visit is to build and strengthen the relationship between Bahrain and India. “Economically, socially and culturally, we have always had a very strong partnership,” Fakhro said.

In 2022, bilateral trade between the two countries will reach $1.6 billion, including oil. Non-oil trade reached $1.4 billion during the year.

“I hope to see in the next two or three years (deals between India and Bahrain) rise to two billion dollars,” Fakhro said.

From an investment perspective, Fakhro said, Bahrain is looking at investments in all sectors but especially in industries related to food, manufacturing, information and communication technology (ICT), aluminum, petrochemicals, and research and development. There is no income tax or corporate tax in Bahrain.

As of the third quarter of 2022, stocks of inward FDI from India to Bahrain amounted to $1.4 billion, which is about 4 percent of the total FDI stock in Bahrain of $33.9 billion.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organized an interaction on accessing MENA opportunities through Bahrain in partnership with Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce, its Investment Promotion Agency and Bahrain Economic Development Board.