The rise of crypto and blockchain adoption in UAE

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Recently, several countries have started to open up to crypto by passing laws or regulations relaxing its usage or otherwise permitting its use in trading and making payments. Governments have often passed these laws after recognizing a growing number of users or enthusiasts inside the country. But sometimes, they create these new laws to gain a competitive advantage over other countries that are slow to adapt to the latest trends.

One of the countries staying ahead of the game in crypto regulation is United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Facts about UAE Crypto Adoption

According to TripleA, a statistics tracking company, the UAE had 152,077 crypto holders who accounted for 1.52% of the population in 2021 and ranked 75th in the percentage of a country's population that owns cryptocurrencies.

The government of UAE is acting on these trends and has accordingly launched several blockchain initiatives in recent years. One of them is called Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021. In 2018, the Government of UAE launched it to utilize the blockchain to store official paperwork digitally and move up to 50% of government transactions to the blockchain.

Digital Dubai - a governmental organization - has reported that "Adopting Blockchain technology, Dubai stands to unlock 5.5 billion dirham in savings annually in document processing alone — equal to the one Burj Khalifa's worth of value every year."

Another organization that is (at least indirectly) facilitating blockchain and crypto ventures in the UAE is KIKLABB. It is a free zone that helps people start their licensed businesses in Dubai, and it's focused on disruptive industries such as blockchain.

In 2020, they teamed up with Virtuzone to launch a digital platform for obtaining a business license. "Using the popular messaging service WhatsApp, Virtuzone and KIKLABB provide customers with a detailed step-by-step licencing process, including quick to fill and user-friendly forms that are designed to be used on smartphones.", wrote KIKLABB.

Last year, there were widespread rumors that KIKLABB had started accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as licensing payments, but they were confirmed to be false in an official statement. Nevertheless, it shows the trajectory towards blockchain adoption by UAE entrepreneurs.

Government involvement in cryptocurrency adoption doesn't stop there, though. In 2021, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) opened a Crypto Centre as "a hub for the development and application of these technologies offering businesses a platform to trade, issue, list and offer crypto assets." (Alarabiya). It also mentioned that it would provide co-working spaces for entrepreneurs SMEs. This announcement is a massive boost to businesses looking to open a licensed crypto trading or processing business in the UAE. It shows that the government is willing to facilitate the building of crypto businesses.

What about accepting crypto payments?

So as far as the government is concerned, the UAE is open to starting cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses. However, as mentioned above, business payments using cryptocurrencies come too soon for the UAE and many other countries. Eventually, the crypto industry will reach that milestone, but the international community must achieve more buyer protection through regulations and laws before that can happen.

Meanwhile, on the payment processing front, crypto companies are beginning to enable the purchase of crypto assets with the Emirati dirham (AED). At the head of these companies is OWNR Wallet, which recently implemented support for a host of other national currencies. In the last month alone, OWNR wallet added support for buying crypto assets using 15 more national currencies.

AED will join the other big-name national currencies such as GBP, NOK, and CHF on the list of fiat currencies for buying crypto inside new OWNR Wallet builds. It is part of an initiative by OWNR Wallet to make buying crypto across the world more accessible. These national currencies will join already-supported USD, EUR, and RUB on the list of national currencies in newer versions. Combined with our Payment Gateway, OWNR Wallet presents a comprehensive solution for businesses to accept payments using customers' bank cards legally cards.

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