DUBAI: Countries in the Middle East are starting to see the importance of embracing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as these digital assets gain more ground everyday, a head of a UAE-based cryptocurrency platform said.
There has been promising progress in the Middle East where some governments are “really trying to be ahead of the curve and embracing this technology, as well as introducing frameworks that allow entrepreneurs and companies to thrive,” BitOasis Chief Executive Officer Ola Doudin told Arab News.
The comments come as BitOasis announced strong financial results for the first half of 2021, including trade volumes that exceeded $3 billion and a 200 percent growth in its user base.
BitOasis recently got its final regulatory licenses from the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) as a multilateral trading facility, and Doudin said she is positive that other regulatory bodies will take similar steps.
Government support is not only present in the UAE, but also in other regional markets such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where the Dubai-based platform plans to expand in the future, she said.
“We’re actively in talks with some of those regulators trying to transfer our knowledge as much as possible, acquire those licenses when it’s the right time to do so, and have constant communication with them,” Doudin said.
However, she acknowledged regulation in the crypto space could be challenging because of how fast the technology evolves.
“The (crypto) space is evolving at lightning speed essentially. Every new month, there’s a new application, new technology, and new innovation,” she said.
Good regulation should be central to sustaining the unprecedented growth of the cryptocurrency industry, an expert said as the new technology gains traction in the region, Doudin added.
Regulators and crypto practitioners should work together to come up with industry standards that will not hamper innovation and allow smooth mainstream adoption, she said.
Doudin said the pandemic’s impact on the global economy has opened opportunities for the cryptocurrency industry, as investors seek alternative assets as a hedge against inflation.
She said regulation also played a big role in this growth.
“There is a lot more regulation and licensing for exchanges for crypto operators, and you have the infrastructure available for retail customers, particularly in the region,” she said.
Countries need to be more proactive in this regard, Doudin said, especially as the cryptocurrency industry grows bigger.
“It’s not basically a question of, should we regulate or not. It’s basically, when are you going to be regulating,” she said.
“They don’t have an option not to regulate because what we’re seeing, more and more, is that crypto is playing an integral part in financial services, and crypto continues to play a major part in transforming financials.”
Although adoption rates are gaining momentum, the majority of use case for crypto currencies are still in investment and trading purposes, Doudin said.
“We still don’t see a lot of use cases where people are using it for payments or other types of daily activities or utilities,” she said, but “at some point, crypto will become a technology that people can potentially use for that.”