The Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA)—the central bank—is responsible for licensing, supervising, and regulating all banks and financial institutions, including information technology operations. The BMA's regulatory regime adheres to international standards.
In March 2002 total domestic assets amounted to USD 11.7 billion. As of June 2002, Bahrain had 22 full commercial banks, two specialized banks, 48 offshore banking units, 34 representative offices, 11 investment advisory and other financial services and providers of ancillary services to the financial sector, 17 moneychangers, and 4 money brokers.
Bahrain is the principal financial services' hub of the Middle East. Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems in the financial sector (onshore and offshore) are transparent and consistent with international norms.
As of June 2002 there were 172 financial institutions operating in Bahrain, including 22 full commercial banks, two specialized banks, 48 offshore banking units, 34 representative offices, 34 investment banks, 11 investment advisors/brokers and providers of ancillary services, 4 money brokers, and 17 money changers registered in Bahrain.
Islamic banking is attracting investors due to profit potential as well as religious and ethical considerations. While the sector is still small, it is registering strong growth. The Crown Prince and other government officials have voiced Bahrain's commitment to further developing the sector.
Bahrain has 26 Islamic banks, 5 insurance companies, and eight mutual funds. Bahrain's claim to be the global hub of Islamic banking is supported by the number of governing institutions it has helped develop and locate here. They include the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), the newly established General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (GCIBFI), the also newly established international Islamic rating agency, and the newly approved International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM). The General Council wants to develop the Islamic banking industry through increased public education, greater co-operation between members, and better compilation of relevant statistics.
Exchange Controls Affecting Trading
Finance Exports/Methods of Payment
Other possible methods of international commercial payments include cash, open credit, and documentary credit sales.