BFC launches payment service for unbanked workers in Bahrain

Digital payroll solution enables employers to securely upload wages onto payroll cards or mobile wallets


MANAMA: A fintech product that enables employers to pay wages digitally to unbanked, blue-collar workers has been launched by BFC Group in partnership with UnionPay International (UPI).

Called BFC Pay, the digital payroll solution enables employers to securely upload wages onto payroll cards or mobile wallets through an online portal or at any BFC Bahrain branch and designated cash deposit machines (CDMs).

For companies, the technology will help improve efficiencies and cut down operational time and expenses, while unbanked employees will get easier access to their wages and be able to withdraw funds from any BFC branch or designated CDMs around the country.

Furthermore, through the BFC Payments mobile app, cardholders can view their statements, check their account balance as well as transfer and receive payment from other BFC Payments app users.

With UPI’s first payroll prepaid card to be launched locally, the partnership marks its entry into the Bahrain market.

The launch was commemorated at Bahrain Fintech Bay (BFB) in the presence of Anthony Langley, general manager of BFC Payments; Hany Al Deeb, regional country manager for Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iraq at UPI; Khalid Saad, chief executive of BFB; Ali Arab, general manager of GPS; Hani Awachi, chief executive of Amthal Group; Rahul Bhalla, chief executive of Invita and Gopakumar Bhargavan, head of business development and operations, BFC Group.

“BFC Pay offers employers an end-to-end digital solution for their payroll requirements. Through this service we aim to foster financial inclusion across Bahrain’s unbanked workers community, supporting the kingdom’s important wage protection initiative,” said Mr Langley.

He said a majority of businesses in Bahrain employ two to five workers and are mostly small retailers who are unable to create bank accounts for their labour, these are the businesses that the firm aims to serve and bring into Bahrain’s cashless society.

Ebrahim Nonoo, managing director and chief executive of BFC Group, said, “BFC Group has a long history of serving the blue-collar workforce of Bahrain and the wider community by meeting their needs for remittances and we are proud to now offer them a tool for financial inclusion through BFC Payments.”

The introduction of the Wages Protection System by Labour Market Regulatory Authority and Central Bank of Bahrain means that all employers are mandated to pay their employees digitally through a WPS-compliant payroll service provider.

According to Mr Saad, the theme of financial inclusion will be one of the main drivers of Bahrain’s fintech ecosystem moving forward.

“As the country rolls out the WPS, BFC Payments through its innovative solutions will play a key role in helping bring the unbanked into the ecosystem,” he added.

BFC Payments planned fintech offerings include multi-currency prepaid travel cards and digital wallets.

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