The Whampoa Group, a Singaporean family office, has announced its plans to launch a digital bank in Bahrain, according to the kingdom’s Economic Development Board. The bank is expected to be operational by the end of the year and will target a global clientele.
The digital bank will provide services such as digital asset trading, custody, and management, along with other digital banking solutions. The Central Bank of Bahrain has granted the bank “in principle approval,” pending the fulfillment of all necessary requirements.
The Whampoa Group is associated with prominent Singaporean Lee families, including Amy Lee, the niece of Singaporean statesman Lee Kuan Yew, and Lee Han Shih of multimedia conglomerate Potato Productions.
Whampoa Digital, the digital asset arm of the Whampoa Group, was established in 2021. It has made investments in various technology companies and participated in a $500 million fund by Binance Labs, the venture capital arm of the cryptocurrency exchange, in June 2022. The group also launched its own $100 million venture capital fund to support Web3 startups and has invested in TikTok parent company ByteDance.
The decision to establish the digital bank in Bahrain was influenced by the region’s solid reputation in the financial services sector, transparent regulatory framework, and commitment to collaboration and innovation, according to Shawn Chan, CEO of the Whampoa Group.
Bahrain has been actively fostering the growth of the cryptocurrency industry. Binance obtained a license to operate in the country in March 2022, and local payment platform EazyPay partnered with Binance Pay to enable crypto payments at over 5,000 points of sale. Additionally, Bahrain is home to CoinMENA, a Shariah-compliant cryptocurrency exchange.
The move by the Whampoa Group reflects the increasing interest and investment in digital banking and the cryptocurrency market in the Middle East and North Africa region, which has been identified as the fastest-growing crypto market globally, according to a report by Chainalysis.