The rise of cryptocurrency in the Middle East

From the UAE to Lebanon, Bahrain, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, most private and public entities are taking notice of blockchain and funding toward a crypto-friendly future.

UAE's Ministry of Community Development launched its blockchain payment gateway recently, pitching in to the blockchain train. [representative image]
UAE's Ministry of Community Development launched its blockchain payment gateway recently, pitching in to the blockchain train. [representative image]

In a timeline where the world gets to witness companies like Facebook push their digital currency—the LibraCoin—cryptocurrency in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region isn’t too far behind.

Countries like Lebanon that are otherwise passive to the tech are also reportedly using blockchain in their national digital transformation strategy.

In an Unlock Blockchain interview last Tuesday, HE Adel Abdelatif Afiouni, the Lebanese minister of state for IT, stated that the tech would “revolutionise the way we do business.” He added, “Blockchain and other technologies will allow us to develop efficient, transparent offerings in an era of digitisation.”

In another sign of blockchain-based finance gaining traction in the MENA region, Bahrain’s Rain Crypto Exchange is said to have gone live, post their acquisition of the crypto-asset exchange license from Bahrain Central Bank. Only recently, MasterCard and Benefit launched blockchain-based payments for banks in the kingdom.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) isn’t too far behind. On the one hand, the country’s Ministry of Community Development launched its blockchain payment gateway. On the other, online payment platform Cashu partnered with global digital currency exchange Huobi to offer crypto payments for its users.

UAE has also seen a rise in blockchain startups—companies like TNCIT solutions, Tratok, and Liquefy aim to bring blockchain to tourism and the real estate sector. Taking note, business-interest public organisation Dubai Chamber also recently shook hands with Singapore's Perlin to distribute blockchain products exclusively across the MENA region.

Other countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Kuwait are also said to have taken notice. While law firm SIPRC offering Intellectual Property solutions utilising the BernsteinBlockchain solution in KSA, Kuwait’s Islamic Bank and Boubyan Bank have reportedly signed up with Ripple for settlement solutions.

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