Bahrain emerges leader in adoption of real-time payments

Bahrain is projected to be the world’s leader in consumer adoption of real-time payments, according to the 2023 Prime Time for Real-Time report, published by ACI Worldwide, a global leader in mission-critical, real-time payments software, in partnership with GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.


With consumers and businesses in the Middle East demanding cheaper, faster and more efficient ways to pay, and merchant acceptance of real-time payments on the rise, consumer and business adoption via popular new use cases is heating up. 


The Middle East is the fastest-growing real-time payments market globally. Rapid consumer adoption and new, sophisticated use cases have made Bahrain a global and regional leader.


This year’s Prime Time for Real-Time report analyzes real-time payment transactions per head of population per month for the first time, highlighting where consumers and businesses most actively use them.


By 2027, Bahrain citizens are expected to make an average of 83.3 real-time transactions per month, which makes Bahrain the world’s leader, ahead of Brazil, Thailand and its closest regional competitors, Saudi Arabia and UAE.


The report highlights that real-time payments are strongly embedded in the everyday lives of consumers and businesses in Bahrain. 


In 2015, the Central Bank launched Fawri+, a real-time payments system that sets the standard for instant payments in the region. Today, nearly 60% of electronic payments in the country are processed in real time, forecasted to rise to 78.6% by 2027. 


With the support of the Central Bank enabling easier use through digital apps like BenefitPay, real-time payments are helping promote financial inclusion and increase financial stability across the economy, leading to stronger economic growth.


Total real-time payment transactions in the country are expected to grow from 276 million in 2022 to 1.3 billion in 2027, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.5%, outpacing any other market in the Gulf.


"Real-time payments growth and adoption in Bahrain has been remarkable, making it a regional and global leader in the field. Bahrain’s government and Central Bank support, as well as its innovative digital infrastructure, have made it an ideal environment for businesses and consumers to take advantage of real-time payments," said Santhosh Rao, Senior Vice President, MEASA, ACI Worldwide. 


"ACI has worked across the world to support governments and banks as they roll out real-time payments, and we are committed to help the countries in the Middle East reap the full benefits of real-time payments," he noted.


The report finds that the Middle East is the fastest-growing real-time payments market globally, with transactions expected to grow from $675 million in 2022 to $2.6 billion by 2027, a CAGR of 30.6%. Saudi Arabia is currently the biggest real-time payments market in the region, closely followed by Bahrain. 


As governments and regulators in the Middle East are setting new mandates for adoption, countries including UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman are expected to launch domestic real-time schemes soon, with innovative features and new services for consumers and businesses high on the agenda.


"This year’s report highlights how consumer and business adoption of real-time payments accelerates when the conditions are right," stated Rao. 


"Bahrain as a relatively recent enabler of real-time payments shows that concerted industry collaboration, widespread merchant adoption, strong brand recognition for a scheme and related services, such as digital wallets, are the perfect combination for strong growth," he added.


The ACI Worldwide report confirms Bahrain's position as a leading fintech hub and highlights its commitment to promoting financial inclusion, supporting innovation and driving economic growth in the region.


ACI Worldwide powers 25 domestic and pan-regional real-time payment schemes across six continents - including nine central infrastructures - providing solutions to central banks, participant banks, fintechs and other payment service providers.  





Share this page Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linkedin

Read our latest publication

'Bahrain-France Investor Guide' -
is YOUR guide to invest in Bahrain and in France. Click here to view the online guide