U.S. based Web3Firewall founded by Lebanese born Dr. Samer Fayssal has raised $2.5 million pre-seed investment round led by Laser Digital, Nomura’s digital asset subsidiary, which is licensed in Dubai UAE, gumi Cryptos Capital (gCC), and SPEILLLP, a member of Susquehanna International Group.

We3Firewall has developed an intelligence-driven risk and compliance platform specifically to meet the evolving challenges of companies engaged in blockchain technology and digital assets.

The company was founded in 2023 by Dr. Samer Fayssal, who was previously CISO and Head of Security at digital asset custodian BitGo. Fayssal and team recognized that Web3 and blockchain technology companies require a next-generation cybersecurity product rather than the fragmented solutions currently available. The product, Web3Firewall Enterprise, addresses increasingly sophisticated risk and compliance demands in one seamless platform, which is equipped to handle the unique risk profiles of DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, and other emerging Web3 applications, providing a security layer that will be able to keep pace as the tokenized economy develops.

Web3Firewall Enterprise can be easily integrated with and tailored to security infrastructure through APIs, which can detect, protect, and respond to malicious transactions and AML/KYC-related incidents even before they occur. Furthermore, the platform simulates transaction outcomes with artificial intelligence to enhance actionable insights. Additional accuracy and precision are delivered by machine learning to self-correct false negative and false positive results. Web3Firewall Enterprise is currently in a beta testing phase and is due to launch onto the market in Q2 this year.

Dr. Samer Fayssal, CEO of Web3Firewall, commented, “We are grateful to have the support of our investors, who are aligned with our vision to bring intelligence-driven security to blockchain-enabled companies. As a proactive risk and compliance platform, Web3Firewall Enterprise provides actionable insights so that these companies can better protect themselves and stay compliant.”

Olivier Dang, Head of Ventures, Laser Digital, added “Laser Digital is delighted to support this exciting project — The uniquely heightened security and compliance of Web3Firewall’s product, which proactively protects against malicious transactions, will allow institutional engagement in tokenized and digital assets to grow and progress.”

Miko Matsumura; Managing Partner of gumi Cryptos Capital, said, “One of the greatest dissatisfactions with web3 is ensuring strong cybersecurity measures. Web3Firewall has the strongest team and vision for how to strengthen this key area”

Vir Anand, Investor, Susquehanna Private Equity Investments, said, “As the crypto industry matures AML, compliance, detection and prevention become paramount. Samer and his team have developed tools to assist companies in creating custom compliance parameters, which adhere to the regulatory framework in which the company operates, as well as cutting edge, self-learning solutions that promise to provide unparalleled protection against malicious transactions in real-time to ensure a protocol’s integrity.”

As per Invest Qatar report The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Tasmu Smart Qatar invested $1.65 billion in digital technologies, and expects this number to reach $5.7 billion by 2026.

Qatar’s digital investments across different priority technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, cybersecurity systems integration, hardware & software deploy and support, cloud computing, big data analytics, enterprise resource planning, AR & VR, drones, IT consulting, Blockchain, custom application design, and artificial intelligence (AI), is expected to grow from “$1.65bn” in 2022 to “$5.7bn” in 2026.

Invest Qatar revealed this in its report, ‘Smarter Qatar: Embracing Emerging Technologies and Innovation, Improving Lives and Driving a Sustainable Digital Economy’, which it prepared in collaboration with the MCIT.

The report also stated that Tasmu is leveraging emerging technology to drive the Smarter Qatar Strategy.

As per the report, “Key functionality focus areas and microservices are identified based on alignment with national strategies, scan of global smart city/nation platforms, and relevance to proposed platform role,” the report stated.

The functionality focus areas include IoT, cloud, analytics, and AI, while the potential microservices are IoT sensors, marketplace, generative Al, multi-cloud, operation command centre, chatbots, predictive analytics, payment gateway, voice interface, and hybrid-cloud, among many others.

According to the report, the integration of emerging technologies in a smart country landscape leads to transformative changes, enhancing sustainability and the quality of life of citizens, ensuring seamless connectivity, and data-driven decision-making.

Additionally, the integration of IoT with AI-powered traffic management helps analyze real time traffic data and coordinates signals leading to a decrease in congestion, enhanced transit efficiency, and lowered greenhouse gas emissions. On data analytics, the report stated that gathering big data from people, infrastructure, and vehicles empowers city planners to optimize buildings, enhance energy efficiency.

Qatar recently launched its digital asset lab which includes blockchain technology at its core, with companies joining in from around the globe.

Diment, with a presence in UAE, within DMCC ( Dubai Multi Commodities Centre), a virtual asset service provider that is issuing a stablecoin backed by diamonds, has received an initial approval for a license from Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority (VARA). Diment will act both as a digital currency and a digital asset for store of value.

As per Diment website, the Diment Dollar is a digital product that redefines the concept of “value-security” in the financial world by reinventing the present stablecoin model. As the first Stablecoin with a fixed price of 1 USD and a token supply fully backed by the underlying diamond reserve value in USD, Diment Dollar operates in a reverse mode compared to present stablecoins by creating value first.

In a press release, Diment VA Exchange Services DMCC announced its Initial Approval from the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority of Dubai – VARA. As per the press release, “This Initial Approval marks a significant milestone for Diment, setting the stage for future regional growth and development in the Crypto Space. While the Initial Approval is a pivotal achievement, it does not yet allow the commencement of any virtual asset activity in or from Dubai. Diment emphasizes that it is still in the process of working towards receiving the full VASP license and approval from VARA.”

“Receiving VARA’s initial approval is a testament to our dedication to regulatory compliance” said Max Weiland, CEO at Diment. “Diment is determined to launch with strict adherence to VARA’s requirements, ushering in a new era of secure and seamless access to the world of virtual assets and build a robust ecosystem that not only meets but exceeds industry standards, seeking to establish a safe and efficient gateway to virtual assets for users Locally and Globally.”

Diment VA Exchange Services DMCC is a setting up as a Broker-Dealer platform in Dubai with the aim to establish a safe and efficient gateway to virtual assets both locally and globally.

VARA has included stablecoin regulations amidst its framework, so it would seem that VARA could become the first regulatory authority to regulate a stablecoin VASP.

The supply of stablecoins circulating on blockchains is increasing, with investors adding $4.2 billion worth of dollar-pegged cryptocurrencies since the start of the month. April 2 was the biggest day for stablecoin inflows with $1.38 billion worth added, data from DefiLlama shows. It’s the biggest single-day increase since March 11 2023.

This article was updated at 13:11 GMT+3 based on information that Diment applied for a broker dealer license.

NorthStake a firm which offers safe, compliant and secure investment in Digital Assets for institutional investors as well as crypto staking and trading services has applied and received a preliminary approval for a license from Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority (VARA) for a license.

The news which came out on “Block Works” noted that such a license would allow the company to offer crypto custody services, custodial staking to institutional investors in the UAE.

Northstake CEO and Founder Jesper Johansen told the Block,” UAE is becoming a global frontrunner in virtual assets. Our ambition is to contribute to the growth of the crypto ecosystem in the UAE, leveraging our expertise and innovative solutions in digital asset investments to support the region’s financial institutions and our local partners on innovative digital asset products.”

Johansen also made the announcement on LinkedIn, “NORTHSTAKE has gained initial approval from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority. Our ambition is to contribute to the growth of the crypto ecosystem in the UAE, leveraging our expertise and innovative solutions in digital asset investments to support the region’s financial institutions and our local partners on innovative digital asset products.”

The move comes after Northstake raised about $3 million to bolster its staking products for institutions. The company, also partnered with Coinify to serve the firm’s institutional and high net worth clients.

In a LinkedIn post made 11 months ago, Jesper Johansen stated, “We continue to develop NORTHSTAKE in Abu Dhabi and Dubai by building partnerships in the region. Today we met Mubadala and we are very excited to see how digital assets will continue to grow in the region. At NORTHSTAKE, we are committed to serve institutional clients on their digital asset portfolio.”

Over the past months VARA has licensed over 21 VASPs including Komainu, HexTrust and others. Most recently Crypto.com became the first global crypto exchange to receive a full license. The UAE has become one of the leading hubs for regulated VASP entities.

BACS ( Blockchain Arbitration and Commerce Society) has launched its operations in the Middle East with the opening of an office in Dubai, at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). As per the press release, Dubai has become a vibrant ecosystem for blockchain companies, crypto assets, and artificial intelligence, offering significant opportunities for innovation, growth, and global expansion.

As Ignacio Ferrer-Bonsoms, President of BACS, points out, “Dubai is a strategic location for us. As a Digital Chamber of Commerce, we must be here. We want to bring our associates to Dubai and, conversely, we want to accompany Middle Eastern technology companies to the rest of the world. BACS’s presence within the DIFC reinforces its reputation as a world-class financial centre that attracts cutting-edge organizations.

BACS encompasses a global network with deep industry knowledge and a commitment to responsible innovation.

BACS aims to further elevate Dubai’s profile as a destination for blockchain projects seeking a reputable and well-regulated environment. The arbitration and dispute resolution focus, carried out by the association not by BACS Dubai, will strengthen the DIFC’s legal framework, especially for complex cases involving emerging technologies.

Peter Hulks, CBDO of BACS Dubai, believes that “Dubai is making significant contributions to the world. Dubai is an Innovation Hub. Dubai is actively fostering a culture of innovation and experimentation. They invest in blockchain, AI, and other cutting-edge technologies, which in turn attracts global talent, entrepreneurs, and forward-thinking businesses. This pushes the boundaries of what’s possible and shapes how we think about the future economy.”

He also highlights its strategic location. “Dubai is a bridge between worlds. Located at the crossroads of East and West, Dubai is uniquely positioned as a connector. It facilitates trade, fosters international collaboration, and promotes cultural exchange. This connectivity plays a critical role in breaking down barriers and driving global progress. Overall, Dubai is contributing a fresh perspective, a spirit of innovation, and a commitment to a long-term vision, something increasingly lacking in countries once seen as leaders in these areas. There are many reasons why I call Dubai home, my answer barely scratches the surface.”

Levan Bodzashvili, COO of BACS Dubai, considers Dubai to be a model of tolerance. “Dubai’s diverse, multicultural society is a true melting pot. They’ve created an environment where people from all walks of life can work and live together. This promotes understanding and cooperation in an increasingly interconnected world, serving as an encouraging example.”

He also highlights Dubai’s visionary leadership. “Dubai’s leadership is clear. Their vision is grand and transformative. They’re not afraid to take risks and invest boldly in ambitious projects, often related to sustainability and technology. This drive pushes the limits and inspires others to strive for ambitious goals that can benefit all of humanity.”

The future of BACS is focused on contributing to a healthy and mature blockchain ecosystem. For BACS, reliability and accessibility are key: our arbitration services offer a clear path for dispute resolution, essential as this industry grows. 

Our goal is to simplify things, helping businesses understand and confidently explore blockchain’s potential. BACS is actively working on expanding its network to key markets, forging new alliances, and learning. BACS will be a practical force for good, advocating for responsible adoption and ethical practices within the blockchain space.

Some of the key advantages BACS offers to companies working with new technologies include:

Risk Mitigation: New technology, especially in the blockchain space, carries inherent risks. We help companies understand those risks, both legal and technical, and implement strategies to mitigate them. This can save them from costly mistakes and protect their reputation.

Dispute Resolution: When conflicts arise (and they inevitably will), BACS offers a specialized arbitration platform. This provides a faster, more cost-effective, and often more private alternative to traditional litigation, keeping projects on track and avoiding public disputes.

Knowledge & Expertise: The BACS team has deep experience in blockchain, crypto assets, and AI. Companies venturing into these areas benefit from our insights, practical guidance, and connections to a global network of experts.

Trust Factor: Working with BACS adds legitimacy to a project. It shows a commitment to transparency, fair play, and responsible innovation. This can be crucial for attracting investors, partners, and building a positive reputation in the industry.

BACS is like the steady hand on the wheel. Companies can focus on innovation, knowing that BACS has their back in managing the challenges that come with using cutting-edge technologies.

The announcement comes as more Blockchain, AI and Web3 startups gravitate towards DIFC.

Crypto.com is now fully operational in the UAE after receiving the final approval from Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority VARA. It is the first international crypto exchange to receive a full operational license.

Crypto.com announced this achievement on X formerly Twitter stating that it would now be able to serve institutional investors.

The post stated, “We’re excited to announce our full operational approval from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority. Crypto․com Exchange will be available for institutional investors as our first launch in the region.”

Crypto.com, has announced that its Dubai entity, CRO DAX Middle East FZE, has received full operational approval from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) and is launching the Crypto.com Exchange for institutional investors as its first operational milestone.

This operational approval follows Crypto.com’s fulfillment of the pre-operational conditions stipulated in the Virtual Asset Service Provider Licence granted to CRO DAX Middle East FZE in November 2023, and marks a first for a global crypto operator to be operational with fiat in the UAE.

Crypto.com will be able to offer exchange Services, broker-Dealer Services, management and Investment Services and lending and Borrowing Services to institutional and retail clients.

Available to institutional clients and qualified retail investors, the Crypto.com Exchange, which has deep liquidity and a state-of-the-art matching engine, offers spot trading, staking brokerage and other OTC offerings around settlements for selected markets. With this full operational approval, Crypto.com has also initiated plans for further in-market product launches expected in the coming months, including the Crypto.com App and additional retail-user focused products.

“We are thrilled to expand our presence and offering in the UAE with the support of VARA,” said Eric Anziani, President and Chief Operating Officer of Crypto.com. “Launching with our world-class Crypto.com Exchange institutional services will be fundamental to our continued growth and success in such a key market for our company.”

“We are incredibly supportive of the steps Dubai is taking to progress the crypto industry, both in-market and abroad,” said Stuart Isted, General Manager, Middle East and Africa of Crypto.com. “But this is still just the beginning, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with VARA in our collective efforts to effectively and responsibly advance the sector.”

In November 2023, Crypto.com received its license but was not operational until all requirements were met. Prior to this OKX received its license which is still non-operational.

Valour, issuer of exchange trade products (ETP) simplifying the access to digital assets, and a subsidiary of DeFi Technologies Inc, a financial technology company that bridges the gap between traditional capital markets, Web3 and decentralized finance, has opened a trading desk in the UAE.

Valour issues exchange traded products (“ETPs”) that enable retail and institutional investors to access digital assets like Bitcoin in a simple and secure way via their traditional bank account

According to the press release, this initiative marks a significant stride in the Company’s mission to enhance global accessibility to regulated digital assets and underscores its commitment to global growth through Valour and Valour Digital Securities Limited’s exchange-traded products (“ETPs”).

This expansion into the Middle East is a key element of Valour’s strategy to increase its product offerings and global footprint. The UAE was specifically chosen for its progressive regulatory environment, high cryptocurrency adoption rate—where an estimated 27% of the population engages in crypto ownership — and its embrace of blockchain technology across multiple sectors. These factors make it an ideal location for fostering growth and extending Valour’s reach into new markets.

As part of this strategic initiative, Valour aims to expand its assets under management (“AUM”) by launching 15 new ETP products in 2024, in addition to the 17 already listed in Europe, followed by another 30 in 2025. This ambitious expansion plan capitalizes on the growth potential of the digital asset ecosystem, demonstrating Valour’s commitment to innovation and its leading role in the digital asset market.

Olivier Roussy Newton, CEO of DeFi Technologies, commented, “The launch of our trading desk in the UAE signifies a pivotal moment for both Valour and DeFi Technologies as we expand our global outreach. This is more than just entering a new market; it’s about integrating into a dynamic and evolving financial landscape that the Middle East represents. We are excited to embark on this journey, leveraging the UAE as a gateway to broader horizons and setting the stage for growth and opportunity.”

The establishment of a trading desk in the UAE represents the first phase of Valour’s plans for geographical expansion.  Valour is ideally positioned to leverage the increasing global demand for regulated and trusted access to digital assets and the rapidly expanding Web 3 ecosystem.

With a dedicated focus on industry-leading Web3 technologies, DeFi Technologies aims to provide widespread investor access to the future of finance.

DRIFE, a leading Web3 Mobility infrastructure provider, and the first ride-hailing decentralized application to operate in India and the UAE, has announced its integration with Sui, a Layer 1 smart contract platform and Blockchain.

DRIFE with this move, aims to offer a seamless, simplified onboarding process for ride hailing users and ecosystem partners. The migration of DRIFE onto Sui Blockchain which was created by Mysten Labs, is a step in expanding the decentralized mobility infrastructure sector.

Sui streamlines the process for developers to launch their projects on the Sui platform as it eliminates technical barriers.

DRIFE Taxi 3.0 service is set to disrupt the Taxi 2.0 such as UBER, Lyft, and others. These companies pioneered the use of mobile apps to connect passengers and drivers conveniently and affordably, yet their centralization has slowly eroded the benefits, and earnings of drivers due to high commission rates, while controlling the price customers pay.

The company is entering the market offering an innovative, transparent, fair solution that empowers both drivers and riders. The DRIFE platform offers a zero-commission fee structure which allows drivers to earn more income and pass on the benefits to riders in the form of savings. Sui is the optimal blockchain platform for DRIFE as it offers low network fees, reduced transaction costs, and enhanced overall affordability for users.

Firdosh Sheikh, Founder of DRIFE states, “Given we are pioneering a decentralized ride-hailing application, a concept unprecedented, we required a strategic partner and a blockchain infrastructure that aligned seamlessly with our vision. Sui is the ideal choice due to its scalability, security and cost-effectiveness.”

DRIFE will utilize various features in SUI’s architecture including its ZKlogin which enables frictionless user interaction without necessitating intricate blockchain knowledge. Sheikh adds, “This aligns perfectly with our goal of creating a seamless user experience and lowering entry barriers. Moreover, SUI’s scalability and speed are paramount, ensuring DRIFE can accommodate rapid growth and deliver real-time services efficiently.”

zkLogin, makes Web3 login as simple as signing in with familiar web credentials such as Google or Twitch. Sui continues to advance zkLogin, adding new providers and additional features such as multi-sig capability and more.

“Sui was created to provide a decentralized platform to support exactly the kind of innovative decentralized solution that DRIFE offers in its mobility infrastructure services,” said Dr. Greg Siourounis, Managing Director of the Sui Foundation. “It is extremely gratifying for the Sui community to see DRIFE leveraging zkLogin and other parts of Sui’s technology to address real challenges people face in their everyday lives.”

By leveraging SUI’s technology, DRIFE is poised to deliver an unparalleled ride-hailing experience that is not only efficient and user-friendly but also cost-effective and scalable.

Qatar backed London based Qan platform is taking the Blockchain conference scene by storm. the QAN platform will be attending both the Paris Blockchain Week, from April 9th-11th and then will be off to Dubai UAE for Blockchain Life 2024 on April 15th and 16th, followed by Token 2049 on April 18th and 19th.

UK QANplatform, the quantum-resistant Layer 1 blockchain, received $15 million investment from Qatar investment company MBK Holding. In September 2023, MBK holding publicly expressed their support for QANplatform.

The Qan platform is one of the blockchain platforms being supported by Qatari investors and enterprises. Maxya Blockchain platform developed by Genesis technologies has been supported by Qatar University as well as QFC ( Qatar Financial Center). Recently the Qatar Blockchain startup, Genesis Technologies partnered with South Korean Blockchain company CP Labs.

The Qatar Central Bank( QCB)  sets to attract Big Tech and Fintech entities in the fields of Blockchain, AI, Tokenization, Digital assets and crypto to the country.

As per its third financial sector strategy launched by HE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohamed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al Thani, the Qatar Central Bank recommended enhancing financial inclusion, measures to facilitate building a world-class shared market infrastructure and establishing a financial technology talent center of excellence.

The research team at the American University of Sharjah has filed a provisional patent for a blockchain system to improve the carbon credits trading market. The patent was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark office.

The Carbon Credits Trade (CCT) market uses a marketplace to buy and sell credits that allow companies or other parties to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide. Governments set limits on emissions, and companies that emit less than their limit can sell their excess credits to those that exceed their limit.

CCT encourages companies to reduce their carbon emissions and invest in cleaner technologies, ultimately helping to combat climate change.

The AUS team’s new blockchain system aims to address the inefficiencies and challenges associated with current CCT platforms by automating a number of the components, including registering participants, generating credits, tracking, and trading as well as measuring carbon emissions.

These improvements will help ensure transparency, immutability and credibility of operations and data records.

“This innovation streamlines the carbon credit trading process and offers significant benefits such as reducing operational costs, processing time and mitigating risks associated with double-spending and lack of transparency, which current CCT systems face,” said Dr. Malick Ndiaye, Professor in Industrial Engineering and research lead.

“It also aligns with the United Nations’ goal of combating climate change by enabling governments to leverage CCT effectively. It empowers countries and organisations to track and monitor greenhouse gas emissions, facilitating carbon credit trading while also aiding in the development of strategies to control and reduce emissions.”

He added that the new technology could contribute to a reduction in air pollution, resulting in a healthier environment for people with improved air quality, reducing the risk of respiratory illnesses and other health issues associated with air pollution.

The technology’s ability to reduce operational costs and processing time in carbon credit trading can create economic opportunities for businesses and investors, leading to job creation, increased investment in sustainable technologies and overall economic growth.

“Our technology offers transparent and access to carbon credit trading, which promotes social equity by ensuring that all stakeholders, including marginalised communities, have equal access to environmental resources and opportunities,” said Ndiaye.

However, by incentivising companies to reduce emissions through the trading of carbon credits, the AUS innovation offers a practical solution to mitigate the environmental impact of thermal power generation.

With the blockchain system automating and enhancing the efficiency of CCT processes, power generating companies operating thermal plants can more effectively manage and offset their carbon emissions.

By participating in the carbon credit market facilitated by the AUS innovation, these companies can demonstrate their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint while also accessing economic benefits through efficient trading and reduced operational costs.

Despite potential challenges such as regulatory hurdles, scalability, and security concerns, the AUS blockchain system offers a practical solution to mitigate the environmental impact of thermal power generation, positioning GCC companies as leaders in transitioning towards a sustainable energy landscape.

Four years in the making, the technology was exclusively developed within the College of Engineering (CEN) at AUS, with full support from full-time PhD student Dr. Alia Al Sadawi and an AUS Faculty Research Grant. Currently, a portion of the research is undergoing implementation in a prototyping phase at AUS to complete a case study on real time carbon emission measurement and monitoring. This new development phase is also supported by the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre.