Khalid Saad is a FinTech entrepreneur and advisor that is passionate about starting new ventures and supporting existing ones. Khalid has worked closely over the years with numerous startups and companies on their digital and market entry strategies.
Khalid Saad is a FinTech entrepreneur and advisor that is passionate about starting new ventures and supporting existing ones. Khalid has worked closely over the years with numerous startups and companies on their digital, market entry and business development strategies.
Khalid Saad is a board member of Oqal - Bahrain Chapter, which is the largest and most active angel investing network in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the region. He is also a Board Member of CoinMENA, a regulated crypto assets exchange. He is a member of the Finance, Insurance and Tax Committee of the Bahrain Chamber.
Khalid Saad was the Founding Chief Executive Officer of Bahrain FinTech Bay, which is the largest FinTech platform in the MENA region. It is also Bahrain's first FinTech platform development platform which brings together around 100 different stakeholders from the public and private sectors. These stakeholders include public agencies, regulators, banks, asset managers, technology companies, FinTechs, Telcos, family businesses, educational bodies and others from Bahrain, the region and internationally. It is also home to around 50 companies focused on blockchain, data analytics, robo advisory, crypto assets, crowdfunding, artificial intelligence and payments. Bahrain FinTech Bay was recognized by S&P Global Ratings as one of the two most advanced FinTech ecosystems in the MENA region.
Previously, Khalid Saad was a Business Development Manager for the Bahrain Economic Development Board, which is a dynamic public agency that is responsible for attracting inward investment into Bahrain, enhancing the investment climate and driving economic development. In this role, Khalid Saad focused on promoting Bahrain's financial services sector and attracting new investments into this sector. Successes include expanding existing companies and attracting new ones such as banks, asset & wealth managers, insurers and ancillary services providers. Khalid Saad also works with existing financial players, financial associations, central banks, lawyers and others to drive development in the sector and make it more conducive and attractive for business.
Before joining the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Khalid Saad worked for Ernst & Young where his work centred on conducting feasibility and market studies, strategic documents and others for a wide array of clients. Khalid Saad also led the implementation of a governance, risk and compliance platform in the Bahrain office and trained all advisory staff. Prior to that, Khalid Saad worked at SEI Investments in London focusing on UK and European Equities.
Here are the main takeaways from Khalid Saad’s interview with Dinis Guarda:
Khalid Saad’s background.
"I am now based in Bahrain and have spent some time in the UK. I am passionate about computers and technology and my university undergraduate education was focused on that. For my postgraduate studies, I focused on management and I hold an MSC from Imperial College London and a BSc from the University of Exeter (First Class Honors)."
When I was back in Bahrain, I wanted to contribute to the development of my country as much as I could. I got a role working closely with the government to attract investments and create meaningful jobs in Bahrain’s financial services sector. Additionally, we were helping Bahrain internally to further strengthen its business ecosystem and infrastructure to make it a powerhouse in the region.
During this time I learned how important embracing Fintech was. From a government POV, we realized how important it was to have the right regulations & policies, enabling infrastructure, stakeholder engagement and alignment and a continued culture of openness to help build the momentum to create a thriving Fintech ecosystem.
We needed to make it attractive for international players to come in and mix with the local and regional fintech ecosystem that was already here and we have focused on that ever since, creating different solutions and platforms for that end. That is when the Bahrain FinTech Bay was born.
Since then I have based my career and experience on helping Bahrain’s fintech and startup ecosystem to thrive by putting together all the pieces and players to make sure Bahrain is a growing and attractive place now."
“I truly believe that there is potential for Bahrain to become a strong global FinTech hub.”
"Bahrain is the smallest country in the Middle East region and one of the smallest countries in the world actually. Bahrain is an innovative country in many sectors. This culture has helped us develop over the years. We discovered oil and that helped greatly in development, but we realized early on how important it was to diversify our economy. Our economy now is more diversified than ever before from financial services, and manufacturing to tourism among other sectors. It is ranked highly in many ex-pat lists as one of the best countries to live in globally due to its social and welcoming environment.
Bahrain has a strategic location in the region with a robust logistics infrastructure, a comprehensive regulatory framework, a strong bilingual and capable workforce and an open culture.
Within FinTech, we are focused on developing many verticals alongside the enabling regulation. This includes an active regulatory sandbox and an open banking framework. One of these verticals is crypto assets (including crypto ATMs) where we have comprehensive regulations that are praised worldwide. This is a relatively new industry and traditional financial institutions need to understand how they can collaborate with this industry to enable it and benefit from it."
Fintech and 4IR Digital Transformation
"When we talk about 4IR and Digital Transformation we are talking about new ways of doing business. Some companies struggle to truly understand the scope of it all, and some even see it as a threat to their market position. What I believe is that the potential is huge and cannot be ignored simply because it changes the rules of the game. So I think what we need to promote is collaboration and education across all industries and sectors, even governments, so they can understand every detail and how they can benefit from it. It is a process that takes time and a lot of effort but is imperative and needs to take place.
About fintech and Islamic finance. You will find many financial sharia-compliant institutions that have embraced many fintech solutions. We are now in a stage that I like to call “Islamic Finance 2.0” where growth and operational efficiency will be attained and significantly aided through the adoption of technology. Financial inclusion is an important and ever-growing theme and through FinTech, such institutions would be able to bank and service an increasingly large number of people in a relatively cost-effective way. The industry is at a crossroads where it needs to grow further and technology is the best way to achieve that."
Recognition and Awards