First came the internet craze, then the smartphone craze. Next, it’s time for blockchain and cryptocurrency to take center stage.
With Bitcoin paving the way for other cryptocurrencies and tokenization efforts, the GCC region has seen a slow adoption rate of the technology, but plans for accelerated integration are in the pipeline in countries like the UAE and Bahrain.
“There is a slow movement away from centralization toward a de-centralized world,” said Julien Hawari, CEO of InfakCorp, the first Islamic Fintech Ecosystem. “Cryptocurrencies are one of the driving factors for this. As adoption progresses, prices will go up and eventually volatility will come down.”
Local governments and businesses see the potential in the technology, and as such, there has been some positive commotion in this very young sector.
With that in mind, here are 4 crypto-related projects you should know about.
Rain: Middle East’s first Sharia-compliant crypto exchange
Bahrain is making major strides in the field of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, and this is immediately apparent with the launch of the Middle East’s first Sharia-compliant crypto exchange.
Rain is the first cryptocurrency exchange to earn a regulatory licence in the Middle East, a statement said.
Founded in 2016, it acquired the Crypto-Asset Module (CRA) license from the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) this July. It also announced that it had closed a seed round of $2.5 million.
When Rain established contact with the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) in February 2017, the team met with some of the regulator’s senior members in an information session on cryptocurrency. Soon after, Rain became the first exchange to enter the CBB’s Regulatory Sandbox Program and worked closely with the regulator for the past two years to provide recommendations from the industry’s perspective.
Fueled by this recent licensure and institutional round of funding, Rain aims to deliver easier and more reliable access to cryptocurrency across the region. The round was co-lead by BitMEX Ventures and Kuwait-based cryptocurrency fund, Blockwater.
Customers can open an account through the Rain website www.rain.bh, or through the iOS or Android app.
Crypto exchange Huobi enables digital currency trading in the regionInternational crypto exchange Huobi and the MENA-regional online payments firm CASHU are making accessing cryptocurrency as easy as buying a Netflix subscription or paying a bill for millions of people across the often-underserved regions of the MENA region.
Thanks to their new partnership, announced this July, nearly 2.3 million CASHU users can now buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and EOS (EOS) directly from CASHU’s mobile app. Users don’t need access to a bank account and can even pay in local currencies. Users on CASHU’s mobile app can make crypto transactions as easily and effortlessly as they would paying a bill or signing up for online services.
The partnership with CASHU was led and managed by Huobi MENA, Huobi’s Dubai-based Middle Eastern, African, and Turkish branch. “The partnership between Huobi and CASHU is a unique business model that enables virtual digital assets trading to CASHU’s millions of users through a simple mobile app. This unique business model empowers even the unbanked population to trade in cryptos,” said Mohit Davar, co-founder of Huobi MENA. He further added, “We will be looking to replicate this with other partners in other countries also.”
But this isn’t the extent of Huobi’s involvement in the region. This month, Huobi Cloud, part of the Huobi Group, announced its plan to provide more local financial institutions with white-label exchange services based on cloud technology in the Middle East and Africa. A White label software is a piece of technology that one company sells to another company, explains Medium.
HAYVN, the firm that offers custody services for digital currencies
HAYVN, the global digital currencies platform, revealed in September that it was raising up to $5 million to fuel the next stage of the company’s growth. This follows its successful 2018 seed capital raise which closed just one month after launch and raised over $600,000 from private investors across the UK, Middle East, Europe and AsiaPac.
HAYVN offers clients a highly secure and compliant platform to buy, sell and offer custody services for digital currencies. HAYVN was recently granted in-principle approval (‘IPA’) from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Abu Dhabi Global Market (‘ADGM’), to operate as a crypto asset OTC and custodian. HAYVN is focused on offering a regulated service to clients globally and plans on quickly taking its regulatory footprint beyond Abu Dhabi, to Switzerland, London and Hong Kong. The Company has also established a close global partnership with cryptographic security expert nCipher Security.
The proceeds will be used to boost HAYVN’s regulatory capital reserves, roll-out its global regulatory footprint, strengthen compliance, legal and IT infrastructure, and to facilitate recruitment of key hires for the next stage of growth. HAYVN will also use the proceeds to launch a global marketing campaign to communicate the unique trading opportunities available for institutional investors on the HAYVN platform.
A football fan? Some clubs are selling tokens that grant you voting rights for club affairs! Renowned Italian Football Club (FC) Juventus has delved into an exciting new domain for footbal: crypto tokenization!
The club, whose roster includes superstar Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo, has officially launched its own crypto token this month, breaking new ground for the sport and taking it in an exciting new direction. The token, $JUV, allows the club’s 400 million or so fans to participate in voting and polling on club affairs.
Juventus partnered with Socios.com, sports-focused blockchain startup that facilitates fan voting rights through the purchase of tokens.
The first poll will allow fans to determine which song plays when the team scores a goal. Further polls are likely to involve grander decisions, such as those involving player matters.