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Bahrain's Regulatory Advantage Draws Whampoa Group to Establish Digital Bank for Digital Assets

Whampoa Group aims to provide innovative digital financial solutions in line with global best practices and set a new benchmark for the industry.

Photo by Charles-Adrien Fournier / Unsplash

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Whampoa Group, a Singapore-based investment group, has announced its plans to establish a digital bank in Bahrain, with the aim of supporting the growth of the digital assets industry.

The bank, set to be operational by the end of the year, will provide integrated financial services and cater to institutions, innovators, and sophisticated investors worldwide. It will offer digital banking services, as well as trading, custody, and asset management of digital assets, according to a statement on Thursday.

Whampoa said the decision to establish the digital bank in Bahrain was influenced by the country's strong reputation in the financial services sector, transparent regulatory framework, and commitment to collaboration and innovation.

Shawn Chan, group CEO of Whampoa Group, highlighted the importance of Bahrain's pro-innovation environment and forward-looking regulatory framework in fostering the establishment of the new digital bank. The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) played a significant role in facilitating the decision.

Digitization a focus for Bahrain

The digital bank is expected to benefit from Bahrain's well-established financial services and innovation hub, fast-growing diversified economy, and strategic location in the Arabian Gulf.

Khalid Humaidan, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, welcomed Whampoa Group's decision to choose the kingdom as the headquarters for its digital bank. In the statement, he emphasized the importance of such institutions in strengthening the existing digital assets industry and noted that this opportunity aligns with Bahrain's Economic Recovery Plan, which prioritizes digitization in the financial services sector.

Bahrain has positioned itself as a pioneering hub for digital asset regulation among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It was among the first countries in the region to issue crypto-asset licenses, establishing itself as a leading hub for crypto services and fintech innovations. With its financial services sector contributing 17.5% to the GDP and actively supporting economic diversification, Bahrain offers an ideal environment for Whampoa Group's digital bank.

Whampoa is an investment group co-founded by Amy Lee – the daughter of Lee Kim Yew, who is the brother of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Amy Lee also served as a senior partner at Lee & Lee, a law firm started by the Lee brothers and Lee Kuan Yew’s wife.

It recently launched its digital assets arm, Whampoa Digital, which aims to invest in and incubate early-stage ventures, in particular those involved in developing blockchain infrastructure and applications that facilitate the mass adoption of Web3 technologies. It aims to deploy about US$100 million in promising start-ups in the Web3 space, the company previously said.

Related: Whampoa Names Public Markets Investments Co-Heads at Digital Arm