Apr 30 2019   | Source: Asia Times 

Middle East heats up as global crypto hub

The United Arab Emirates has rapidly become a global hub for digital token sales as, according to Bloomberg, the nation has now surpassed the US and UK and accounted for a quarter of all crypto funds raised globally so far this year. 


Citing recently posted data from analytics site CoinSchedule, Bloomberg added that more than US$210 million had been amassed in the Arab nation in 2019 to put it at the top of the world’s top 10 token sale list. On last year’s list, the UAE was not in the top 10.  


The US has dropped down the crypto fundraising list from first to sixth place, as initial coin offerings (ICOs) continue to decline and as Washington regulators continue to take a hardline approach on digital assets.


According to Alex Buelau, the CEO of CoinSchedule, the market is now seeing “the continuation of the move away from the USA due to regulatory concerns.” Regulators in China and India have also stamped on the industry with heavy feet, which has left the Middle East to lead the way for crypto adoption, closely followed by Asia.


Singapore is in third place on the list, after the Cayman Islands, and Hong Kong is forth.


Two large sales have boosted volume for the UAE, according to the CoinSchedule data. Banking and crypto insurance service provider Genesis Crypto Blockchain Investment Bank (GCBIB) raised $142 million in Dubai from their ICO, which ended in January.


Bolton Coin, that is also based in Dubai and facilitates crypto investments in tangible luxury markets such as diamond mining and real estate, raised $68 million in a token sale that ended in February.


Saudi Arabia is also heavily into the digital asset industry as it moves ahead with new banking partnerships to facilitate cross border transfers. According to a company announcement, the Saudi British Bank (SABB) has deepened its ties with San Francisco-based blockchain firm Ripple to launch an “Instant Cross-Border Transfer Service.”


The announcement was made at an inaugural Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh last week as part of the Saudi’s national Financial Sector Development Program.


The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) is already familiar with blockchain as an agreement was made earlier this year to facilitate cross border transfers between banks in Saudi and the UAE.


Last year the bank also initiated cross border pilots using the Indian rupee. Deputy Managing Director Corporate and Institutional Banking at SABB, Majed Najm, added: “The Indian rupee (INR) is a positive start to an upcoming roadmap being the first currency to be activated in SABB. This plan aims to provide customers with a valuable service and link more countries and currencies in the near future.”


India, meanwhile, has tightened its grip on cryptocurrencies and is likely to ban them outright following further condemnation from the central bank last week.

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