logo library
Access The Global Open Data Tracker
Fill out your details to explore the Standards Library and Innovation Atlas.
Back to the main site
Back to Innovation Atlas


No Open Banking

Kuwait is a country in Western Asia. It is situated on the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, bordering Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south. Kuwait has taken a regulatory-driven approach to Open Banking.

99% of Kuwaitis had access to the internet. Mobile devices are the most popular way to access the internet.

Kuwait’s central bank announced forthcoming Open Banking regulations in 2019, but the country’s data protection law came into force first in 2021 (p. 10). Data protection regulations may be updated at a later date as needed to suit the Open Banking regulations. Kuwait has taken a regulatory-driven approach with the central bank as the regulator.

The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) makes some efforts to oversee OB-specific products in the sandbox. There is no regulation, standard or implementation framework around OB yet.

The CBK launched the Regulatory Sandbox in 2018 and updated the same in 2019 to broaden the scope of accepted products and services.

According to the Global Findex Database, 20% of Kuwaitis were unbanked in 2020. 

Kuwait has taken a regulatory-driven approach with the central bank as the regulator.

In 2021, 30 Fintechs operated in Kuwait. Kuwait’s government continues to develop the infrastructure to enhance its Fintech ecosystem by setting up initiatives, such as a National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development, to support SMEs, including Fintech companies, financially. Aiming to promote Fintech adoption, the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) has established a dedicated Fintech Unit within the bank, as well as a Regulatory Sandbox Framework in 2018.

Kuwait has a 31% shortage in the labour market. Specialised technical professions are among the top 5 industries, and there is particularly a shortage of software architects, data scientists and designers. 

The Central Bank of Kuwait has established a Regulatory Sandbox Framework for Fintech. The main objective of the Regulatory Sandbox Framework is to enhance the Central Bank of Kuwait’s role in adopting and promoting innovation by temporarily exempting participants from certain requirements pertaining to either the implementation of the regulatory instructions or obtaining licenses. Along with providing an appropriately controlled environment for testing the proposed products and services, the Regulatory Sandbox also provides numerous benefits to the participant. The most significant benefits include enhancing efficiency in understanding and complying with regulatory requirements, improving risk management skills, receiving technical advisory, and, finally, ensuring the participants’ competitiveness by reducing the time needed and cost to launch a product or service in the local market, facilitating the testing of the product or service before deploying it in the local market and enabling cooperation between innovators and the central bank.

The Sandbox Framework lists four key stages for its licensing process, which should be completed within one year, although this may be extended at the discretion of the CBK. The four stages are the application stage; the evaluation stage; the experimentation stage; and the accreditation stage. 

During the first stage, the applicant files an application on the CBK’s website along with the required documents; during the second stage, the CBK evaluates the product/service from a technical, security and regulatory standpoint; during the third stage, the CBK collaborates with the applicant for the implementation of technical, safety, and operational testing of the proposed product/service in a controlled environment, and during the fourth – and final stage – the CBK issues final approval, an initial approval, or a rejection decision and notifies the applicant accordingly.