Yasmeen Al Sharaf – Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019

This article features an interview with Yasmeen Al Sharaf, Head of Fintech & Innovation at Central Bank of Bahrain, one of our Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019.

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This interview is part of a series of interviews featuring female Fintech leaders globally. LATTICE80, in partnership with Miss Kaya, recently published our Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019 list.The effort reflects our efforts in women empowerment and support in a field where women continue to be underrepresented. Check out the full list for 2018 here as well. 

Miss Kaya is a lifestyle driven financial platform for the modern woman that aims to empower them to carve their own financial freedom through technologically-empowered financial tools. The mission is to provide the modern women globally with the support, resources, and community they need to live the lifestyle that they want.

Disclaimer: The interviews are published on a rolling basis and the order by which they are published by no means representative of any rankings.

This article features an interview with Yasmeen Al Sharaf, Head of Fintech & Innovation at Central Bank of Bahrain.

1. Tell us more about what you do and how did you move into Fintech?

I am currently heading the FinTech & Innovation Unit at the Central Bank of Bahrain (“CBB”). Our main goal is to facilitate a robust and agile regulatory framework that fosters innovation within the financial services sector. At the same time, we are focused on working with our strategic partners to create a conducive FinTech ecosystem in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

My journey at the Central Bank of Bahrain (“CBB”) started 13 years ago, where I spent the first 11 years within the Licensing Directorate. I was then appointed as Head of the newly established FinTech & Innovation Unit in October 2016.

During my time at the Licensing Directorate I worked very closely with a wide array of financial institutions – both local and international – that were applying for a regulatory license to start offering their financial services within/and or from the Kingdom of Bahrain. I was responsible for handling applications of banks (both conventional and Shariah-compliant), Investment Firms, Insurance Firms, Capital Market institutions and companies that provide ancillary services to the financial sector, undertaking in-depth due diligence and financial analysis on their business models to ensure their full compliance with our regulatory requirements and that they were presenting viable business propositions. In addition, I had to be extremely well-versed with the CBB Rulebook and financial regulations, which helped me acquire a vast amount of regulatory knowledge and skill.

All in all, I was extremely privileged to gain the valuable experience that came with my job and for having the opportunity to handle the licensing of some of the most prominent international financial institutions in Bahrain.

My interest in FinTech began in 2014 when I performed a research study on the Payment Services and Electronic-money regulation of the FCA in the UK, which was then used to write and issue our own regulations on Payment Service Providers and Card Processing institutions. 

2. What does being a woman in Fintech mean to you?

To begin with, being amongst a host of such brilliant, inspiring women in FinTech showcases how we are breaking stereotypes associated with both the traditional financial services sector and technology-related fields. Women in FinTech are leading the way towards reshaping the industry and creating a level-playing field. I believe that we have embarked on a dynamic new era of progression for women, proving that no field or role is off-limits.

3. What challenges do you think women face in Fintech?

Any challenge that might potentially exist have not been apparent so far, but there is always room for further progression in bridging gender gaps, for example, and normalizing the involvement of women in traditionally male dominated sectors. We are definitely witnessing an ideological transformation where the stereotypical discriminatory mindset is quickly starting to erode and shift towards an open, inclusive mindset.

4. What advice would you give to other women starting out and growing their careers in Fintech?

I would strongly encourage them to come onboard and take part in this exciting sector which is transforming and reshaping the financial markets around the world.  This poses a great opportunity for us to play an active part in this fourth industrial revolution and to embark on a new journey for women empowerment.

5. What are 3 keywords to describe Fintech for 2019?

Digitization, Financial Inclusion and Customer-Centricity.