Abu Dhabi launches blockchain and cryptocurrency body

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Abu Dhabi has launched a new association backed by the emirate’s economic free zone to accelerate the development of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the region.

The Middle East, Africa and Asia Crypto and Blockchain Association (MEAACBA), a non-profit organization supported by Abu Dhabi Global Market, aims to bring industry players together to discuss strategies and address the biggest challenges facing the industry, and while integrating digital assets into key economic sectors.

The ADGM-based association counts major cryptocurrency platforms such as Mubadala-backed MidChains, Dubai-based BitOasis, Bahrain’s Rain Financial, crypto.com and Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, among its partners.

“The UAE is on its way to becoming one of the top international financial centers and we want to be a recognized contributor to the development of the diversified and sustained development of the UAE economy,” ADGM Chairman Ahmed Al Zaabi said during a speech at the launch event in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

“We are confident that the MEAACBA will continuously contribute to strengthening the UAE’s digital economy and adoption … and will have an impact in the region and globally.”

The move places Abu Dhabi and the UAE at the forefront of innovation, in line with the government’s aim to leverage the ongoing digital transformation to transition to a knowledge-based and smart economy.

Blockchain is the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance, which is generally considered a safer way to conduct transactions and may end up replacing middlemen, such as brokers and banks, in the financial system.

The UAE has taken several steps to integrate blockchain into the economy, government and society as part of efforts to develop the economy of the future.

Blockchain in particular has gained particular focus, with a number of government initiatives established, including the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021 and the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, as well as the formation of the Global Blockchain Council.

The UAE is “very well placed” to build the industry’s next phase of growth, Stuart Isted, general manager for the Middle East and Africa at crypto.comtold The national.

“If you look at the US and UK markets, they don’t have the same regulatory framework and intent from the regulator to build an industry from scratch, which is what the UAE has done,” Isted said.

Last year, ADGM revealed its plans to double the number of its cryptocurrency exchanges to expand online asset trading options for investors.

Global cryptocurrency exchanges such as Binance, Kraken and eToro have flocked to ADGM to secure operating licenses as they seek to tap the potential of the Emirates’ cryptocurrency market.

From left, Dapo Ako, Managing Director of J. Awan & Partners;  Stuart Isted, general manager of Crypto.com;  Jehanzeb Awan, founder of J. Awan & Partners;  Samir Satchu, Senior Vice President at BitOasis;  Basil Askari, Co-Founder and CEO of MidChains;  Dominic Longman, senior executive officer at Binance;  and Joseph Dallago, co-founder and CEO of Rain Financial at the launch of the Middle East, Africa and Asia Crypto Blockchain Association in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.  Ruel Pabloo / The National

The UAE’s digital economy contributes 4.3 percent to the national economy, according to government data.

The Emirates has also moved up the ranks as a recognized global cryptocurrency center. It is now among the top five nations for adoption, with annual transactions worth $25 billion, according to consulting firm PwC.

Meanwhile, the wider Mena region is the fastest-growing cryptocurrency market in the world, accounting for 9.2 percent of global digital currency transactions from July 2021 to June 2022, according to blockchain data platform Chainalysis.

The global blockchain market is also booming and is expected to grow to $7.18 billion. this year and $164 billion. in 2029 at a compound annual rate of more than 56 percent, from about $4.7 billion. in 2021, according to Fortune Business Insights.

The capital is also set to host the first Middle East Blockchain Awards at this month’s Abu Dhabi Finance Week.

The new association is eager to address the cryptocurrency sector’s challenges, especially now that it is going through what is being called a “crypto winter,” or a market cooldown that dragged Bitcoin below its key $20,000 psychological level in June and wiped out $2 trillion of the sector’s total market, sending it below $1 trillion.

Bitcoin, the world’s first and largest cryptocurrency, was trading about 5 percent lower at $19,773.73 at 2pm UAE time on Tuesday, according to Coinbase.

“We’ve had some very nice springs and summers, but also pretty cold and chilly winters,” said Jehanzeb Awan, chairman of the new association and founding partner and managing director of Dubai-based financial consultancy J Awan & Partners.

“Companies are built on principles, not seasons, so we need a big effort to bring all industry players together.”

The UAE is on its way to becoming one of the top international financial centers and we want to be a recognized contributor to the development of the diversified and sustained development of the UAE economy.

Ahmed Al Zaabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market

“A lot of people focus on the speculative nature of the industry, but this year is a chance to focus on the fundamentals of the industry,” said Joseph Dallago, CEO and co-founder of Rain Financial. The national,

The association’s goals include developing educational campaigns and coordinating with local and global partners to create frameworks for blockchain ecosystems that are accessible, transparent and adhere to industry standards.

MEAACBA’s strategy will help promote financial inclusion, in partnership with local authorities, as regulation will be the “biggest gateway” to mainstream adoption, said Basil Al Askari, co-founder and CEO of MidChains.

“This will help inform, and ultimately, adoption or at least acceptance, for banks to work with virtual assets that are regulated and in turn to work with their customers,” he told The national,

The association will also address the issue of sustainability in the cryptocurrency sector, which has faced a backlash for its massive energy consumption.

Operating on systems that are environmentally responsible will “make people more comfortable” in getting involved in cryptocurrencies, said Dominic Longman, a senior executive at Binance.

MEAACBA will also hold competitions to find companies to develop solutions to real economic problems. The winners will have the opportunity to receive industry support and get in touch with investors.

Updated: November 8, 2022, 12:10 p.m



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