Singaporean family office to set up digital bank in Bahrain

The Whampoa Group, a family office based in Singapore, will open a digital bank in Bahrain, the kingdom’s Economic Development Board said on May 18. The Group expects to open the bank by the end of the year and is aiming for a global client base.

The bank will offer digital asset trading, custody and management among digital banking services. According to Bloomberg, the Central Bank of Bahrain has granted the bank “in principle approval” pending fulfillment of all requirements.

Whampoa Group is associated with two prominent Singaporean Lee families — including Amy Lee, niece of Singaporean statesman Lee Kuan Yew, and Lee Han Shih of Singaporean multimedia conglomerate Potato Productions. 

According to its LinkedIn page, Whampoa Digital was created in 2021. It participated in a $500 million investment fund created by Binance Labs, the cryptocurrency exchange’s venture capital arm, in June 2022. In September, it announced the creation of its own $100 million venture capital fund to support Web3 startups. It is also an investor in TikTok parent company ByteDance.

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A Chainalysis report released in October found that the Middle East and North Africa region has the world’s fastest-growing crypto market. Whampoa Group CEO Shawn Chan said the firm chose the kingdom for this initiative due to “Bahrain’s solid reputation in the financial services sector, transparent regulatory framework, and ongoing pledge to collaborate and innovate.”

Binance received a license to operate in Bahrain in March 2022, and local payment platform EazyPay partnered with Binance Pay in October to make it possible to use crypto at more than 5,000 points of sale in the country. Bahrain is also home to the Shariah-compliant CoinMENA cryptocurrency exchange.

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