MEA Fintech Weekly News: Dubai Gets Regulatory Nod for Crypto Tradingby Sharon Lewis 26 September 2021
In last week’s MEA fintech news, it’s all eyes on crypto trading in the UAE – approvals for crypto trading at a Dubai-based free zone make their way through, while BitOasis registers on an anti-money laundering system in the country.
Meanwhile, e-payments see tailwinds in Jordan, Flutterwave moves ahead with global expansion, and Colendi raises US$30 million in a funding round.
It’s official – Dubai free zone to offer crypto trading
Crypto trading at the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) free zone will be made official, according to an announcement last week.
The UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) and DWTCA signed an agreement for regulating, offering, and trading crypto assets and related financial activities at the free zone.
The agreement makes way for a framework to issue approvals and licenses for crypto-related financial activities. The SCA will oversee the issuance, offering, listing, and trading of crypto assets at the DWTCA free zone, as well as the licensing of related financial activities.
It will also have powers to supervise and inspect licensed entities.
The agreement will also see the SCA and DWTCA exchanging best practices, and providing mutual technical support.
Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of DWTCA noted in the statement that new technologies such as non-fungible tokens would play an important role in the “future of commerce.”
“DWTCA is also pursuing ways to offer a sustainable home for this ecosystem, in order to stay future ready,” he added.
Cryptocurrencies are gathering steam in the UAE, with five in 10 UAE citizens from a recent survey saying that they intend to use crypto within the next year. Abu Dhabi has been issuing licenses for crypto trading for platforms such as BitOasis and Matrix, while Dubai-based Sarwa launched a crypto portfolio earlier this year.
MEA Fintech News Highlights
– Uganda-based energy startup gnuGrid secures US$612,000 in seed funding, pivots to fintech-based business model (Disrupt Africa).
– AlphaCode Incubate, a ZAR 1.5 million (US$100,000) incubator programme, opens applications for South African startups (Disrupt Africa).
– Nigerian energy distribution and collection fintech startup Infibranches raises US$2 million from Shell-backed impact investment firm (Fintech News Africa).
– e-finance, a state-backed digital payments platform in Egypt, to float up to 14.5% of its shares on the EGX in Q4 2021 (Daily News Egypt).
– Egypt-focused payments platform dopay fetched US$18 million in a Series A round (Fintech News Africa).
– UAE-headquartered VC firm Shorooq Partners launches its fifth location, a new office in Bahrain (Zawya).
– Digital retail and corporate banking challenger Zand to launch in the UAE (Fintech Futures).
– Turkey-based micro lending and credit scoring startup Colendi raises US$30 million from a Series A fundraise (Fintech News Middle East).
– Pakistan-based digital banking startup Tag secures largest seed funding round across South Asia (Fintech News Middle East).
– Visa becomes an official partner of the first edition of the Arab Fintech Forum, taking place in Qatar this October (Pymnts).
– Bahrain-headquartered ESG lending and investment platform Avana announces expansion to Saudi Arabia (Zawya).
– E-payments grows 35% during H1 2021 in Jordan, while the number of e-payment dealers increases by about 50% (The Jordan Times).
– Fintech and banking software provider Velmie to support FX and cross-border transfers, eyes Middle East remittance market (Fintech News Middle East).
“Driven by booming ecommerce adoption and a growing fintech ecosystem, the region is seeing tailwinds in paytech and cashless trends. According to Checkout.com’s 2021 report on ‘Digital transformation in MENA and Pakistan’, 76% of MENA consumers reported using a fintech app in the past year…”
Find out more about how ecommerce and BNPL are fuelling growth in the MENA payments sector.
“For some, if not most of 48-Palestinians, the Abraham Accords offered the prospect of visiting and engaging with the wider Arab economies that had up until then, remained off-limits. Chief among them was the 48ers tech startup community, commonly referred to as the 48ers, who had hoped to tap into the investment capacity of the Gulf and form partnerships to grow their businesses. But a year since the agreement, little has been done…”
Read more on what startup hubs in the Middle East can do to support the Arab Israeli tech startup community.
Featured image: edited from Unsplash