Cayman Island C1 Fund, a fund dedicated to the digital assets place, with a presence in the UAE and USA, has partnered with Asian based Spartan Group, a Web3 advisory and asset management firm.

As per the press release, the partnership with Spartan Group signifies a key milestone for C1 Fund, as Spartan Group brings unparalleled expertise and a proven history of success in advising on multi-billion-dollar M&A transactions and fundraises within the digital assets sector.

We are thrilled to join forces with Spartan Group, said Dr. Najam Kidwai, CEO & Co-Founder of C1 Fund. “Spartan deep understanding of the crypto, Web3 and blockchain landscape, coupled with a track record of successful engagements with industry leaders, aligns seamlessly with our vision for C1 Fund. The synergy between C1 Fund and Spartan Group is a testament to our shared commitment to driving innovation and growth in the digital assets sector. This collaboration significantly enhances our ability to identify and seize emerging opportunities, expanding our influence within the dynamic realm of digital assets secondaries.”

Spartan Group’s Co-Founder, Casper B. Johansen, expressed equal enthusiasm, stating, “Collaborating with C1 Fund opens up exciting avenues for both organizations. C1 Fund’s focus on digital assets secondaries complements our expertise, creating a synergy that will enhance our ability to drive value for our clients and the broader crypto community. We look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership that pioneers innovation and growth.”

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Trust Wallet, self-custody crypto wallet, majority owned by the former CEO of Binance has announced its operations in the UAE both in RAKDAO (Digital assets Oasis) free zone in Ras Al Khaimah and in ADGM in Abu Dhabi.

According to Eowyn Chen, CEO of TrustWallet, “Trust Wallet operates from the free trade zone of Ras Al Khaimah, where it has a business license. The zone is also known as RAK DAO, for “Digital Asset Oasis,” and caters primarily to blockchain companies. RAK has “more flexible and better corporate treatment” for web3 companies.”

Chen moved to Dubai from Virginia in October, while the company will be based in Ras Al Khaimah, the sixth-largest city in the UAE. The company has about 80 employees worldwide with about 15 per cent to 20 per cent in the UAE according to Chen.

A separate company, DApps Platform, holds the intellectual property rights for the wallet service and is based in Abu Dhabi Global Market in Abu Dhabi.

According to Chen, Trust Wallet has seen growth in India, Pakistan, and business opportunities in the UAE.

Trust Wallet is a software-based crypto wallet service designed to let users self-custody the kinds of digital assets popular in decentralized finance applications.

Globally, the app-based service has 56 million downloads on iOS and Android, making it the most popular crypto wallet for handheld devices, according to Data.ai.

In her interview Chen described regulators in the UAE as having a “friendlier outlook toward crypto in general”. That gives Trust Wallet confidence about the likelihood of “reasonable regulation on decentralized finance.”

ADGM in Abu Dhabi announced recently that it will be amending its virtual asset regulations and introducing DeFi regulations in 2024.

FLUUS, which means money in Arabic, with founders from the MENA region, has been offering citizens in developing the countries the opportunity to receive financial freedom through the use of crypto and Blockchain, and has grown to now listing their token on MEXC global, a global cryptocurrency exchange while partnering with providers to cover India. 

According to a recent medium post by FLUUS, “The listing on MEXC Global marks a significant milestone for FLUUS, as it opens up new avenues for participants and enthusiasts to engage with their innovative ecosystem. FLUUS aims to provide seamless trading opportunities and ensure that $FLUUS is readily available to participants worldwide.”

FLUUS is a layer of consumer and developer-facing products, evolving the world’s access to web3. Developers can integrate FLUUS into their platform and give their users GLOBAL access to crypto using any payment method, including CASH and MOBILE MONEY.

In March 2023, FLUUS raised $600,000 ahead of its beta launch through Fundrs LaunchPad. FHS Capital, Base 64 and a number of angel investors participated in the raise.

Furthermore, FLUUS has integrated with top ramping providers such as Moonpay and Transak, and will soon cover more markets, including 100% coverage in India, while expanding its FLUUS Pay network to support cash-to-crypto ramping in more regions. Additionally, FLUUS’s AID3.0 product has supported over $1.2 million in aid money in Ukraine and will expand to more partners, increasing coverage and support.

FLUUS will also be launching its staking pools to create further benefits for holders in Q2 of 2023.

In the third quarter of 2023, FLUUS plans to also launch on a DEX, as well as initiate liquidity pools to enable users to earn passive income. FLUUS pay will aggregate DEX and swapping services, enabling users to trade their cryptocurrencies and tokens in a decentralized environment with the most suitable providers.

Moreover, FLUUS plans to launch its FLUUSAuth Alpha, a revolutionary product that will allow users to create their wallets using traditional SSO methods, facilitating web2 user onboarding. Additionally, FLUUS plans to increase its human capital and obtain provisional licenses to operate in more jurisdictions. T

In Q4 2023, FLUUS is focused on achieving significant milestones. This includes finalizing strategic partnerships with web3 solutions to provide global cryptocurrency access. The implementation of FLUUS DAO Governance structures will empower the community, enabling active participation in decision-making. FLUUS also aims to expand the geographical reach of the FLUUS Pay network, making it accessible to more regions, and strengthen its utility by supporting a wider range of cryptocurrencies.

Prior to this FLUUS had worked in several regions across MENA including Lebanon. Tey El Rjula, Founder of FLUUS, told LaraontheBlock,

Overall, there is a total of 49,563,636 $FLUUS tokens in circulation.

UAE Helion Ventures investment, is heading to Beirut Lebanon for a round table meeting on May 11th at Beirut Digital District. Helion launched its operations in Dubai’s DIFC in September 2022 focusing on four major sectors, banking 3.0, healthcare, tokenization of real world assets, green technology, gaming, and fintech in projects across the GCC and African region.

The founders, Oliver von Wolff and Bojan al Pinto Brkic, have long-term experience in venture capital and regulated products. Oliver von Wolff, Founder and CEO, at launch stated, “Our products and services perfectly complement the ecosystem for Dubai start-ups, we are a classic equity provider and venture builder with focus on institutional investors”, to which Bojan added “we intend to capitalize on our experience, bringing the investment management know-how to new industries, such are blockchain and fintech, and even gaming and crypto.”

It is not surprising to see Helion Ventures off to Beirut, given that they are one of the most active investment venture entities when it comes to partnerships and event participation. Just before Beirut, launched Helion has partnered with Crypto 306 event taking place on May 8th 2023 at the Ritz Carlton in Dubai UAE.

Partnerships are a key pillar for Helion. For example, They have partnered with Syndicate Capital Group incubator given Helion’ interest in investing in South East Asia. Earlier, they partnered with the African Chamber of Digital Commerce, and the Hong Kong Federation of e-commerce.

Their spirit of partnerships goes even further, as they have equally partnered with other venture builders such as UAE based Masary Capital, New Tribe Capital, and Uganda based CryptoSavannah.

When it comes to startups, their most well-known investments and partnerships include cryptobank, DeFi startup Yieldster, dOTC MarsBase, DeFi OTC desk as well as African Blockchain internet startup 3air.

The 3air ecosystem is built to make it easier for previously unconnected users to join the global blockchain community. Internet subscriptions are purchased which grant the user a Connectivity NFT that can be shared, transferred and used at any 3air-compatible location. Once connected, 3air’s blockchain platform offers users access to the world of blockchain and DeFi. Users can own a digital identity, create wallets, take micro-loans and participate in revenue-generating activities.

Helion has even partnered with UAE free zones such as IFZA International Free Zone Authority

LaraontheBlock spoke to Oliver earlier to understand why Helion Ventures chose to set up in UAE and focus on MENA and Africa. He stated, “Given my previous role at Swiss Based CV Labs and then at Dubai’s Crypto Oasis, I helped build UAE’s Web3 ecosystem. So when I ventured to launch Helion I thought of Dubai because it has three essential pillars, financial capital, infrastructure, and human capital as well as its entrepreneurial spirit.”

He adds, “Helion Venture stands in the middle on one side we have friends and family investors which is not regulated and on the other we offer family offices and high network individuals the opportunity to invest with us.”

Helion invests anywhere between $50,000 – $100,000 for early pre seed stage projects, and take equity stakes for anywhere between $250,000- $500,000. They invest both in tokens and equity.

According to Oliver, Helion has a steady good quality deal flow given his long term experience and his former work at CV Labs and as such there are always great projects being presented to Helion and not spam projects.

He explains, “ We carry out strong due diligence and make selected investments, but we are also venture builders which means we actively manage our investments by supporting them with marketing, networking, business cases and so forth. We are also always open to working with other VCs because we believe if one VC has a strong project it should be shared to support these projects even more.”

While Helion’s policy is not to lead investments they do like to be anchor investors. Oliver clarified, “Anchor investors give money and support while lead investors like to take a more strategic managerial influence which I believe is not the best choice. When we invest we have already done our due diligence and trust the technology but more importantly the team.”

Oliver is bullish for2023 and believes crypto markets will go up in mid-2023. He sees the biggest markets will come from NFTs that actually have customer uses cases, like ticketing, etc.. and also sees the metaverse growing with serious projects as well as early stage token market.

UAE based Venom Ventures Fund, a Web3 and blockchain innovation fund managed by Abu Dhabi-based investment fund manager Iceberg Capital Limited, has invested $5 million in Everscale, a premier blockchain platform that aims to solve the scalability issues bogging down the Web3 industry.

The $5 million will be used by Everscale to expand its development teams and boost the number of projects.

Everscale has been diligently working on expanding its reach and integrating its technology solutions in Asian countries over the past two years, while also building a strong community. Its dynamic sharding technology enables it to efficiently adapt to varying workloads, thus making it an easy and practical option for creating large-scale Web3 and other types of applications.

Venom Ventures Fund Chairman Peter Knez, ex-CIO of BlackRock, said, “For us, this is a strategic investment aimed at the technological development of projects and teams around technologies that we focus on and actively develop. In particular, we are talking about the Venom blockchain project and its ecosystem, which is planned to be launched soon and for which Everscale is a potential Layer 2 solution.”

Venom and Everscale teams will be working together on the further development of the core and the ecosystem bringing the adoption of blockchain closer to real business use cases. Current initiatives such as digital asset tokenization platforms, a full framework for CBDCs and stablecoins and payment solutions with crypto to fiat gateways are already making good headway.

Commenting on the investment, Everscale Foundation Board Member Moon Young Lee said, “This is a milestone for both the Everscale and Venom networks. The technological capabilities of Everscale are immense but they have been underappreciated by a wider audience. Now, Everscale will be able to operate as an experimental network where updates and complex technical solutions can be introduced before they are brought to Venom. This investment will allow Everscale to gain the recognition that it deserves.”

Designed as a network of blockchains, Venom has no limit to the number of other auxiliary networks at the Layer 2 level and no limit to the economy type or operation at the Layer 2. This particular architecture means that mass adoption is now achievable on the Venom blockchain.

Everscale is ideal for hosting high-scale web3 and other load-intensive projects. Over the past two years, Everscale has emerged as one of the leading blockchains in Asia, with a thriving community and robust ecosystem of DeFi platforms.

UAE based Blockchain enterprise, Shaariq.com, an end-to-end real estate platform of Vision Tech has partnered with Pakistan-headquartered JK&S Developers, a real estate arm of the renowned Saif Group. to facilitate sales in JK&S Developers’ highly anticipated project D.I. Khan New City.

Shaariq.com will leverage its enterprise blockchain capabilities to ensure secure, transparent, and seamless transactions. Shaariq.com will also ensure D.I. Khan New City becomes an early mover in adopting blockchain at an enterprise level. Shaariq.com will create a digital twin of the project in the metaverse to enable efficient urban planning and optimize the delivery of public services such as healthcare and groceries. NFT linked transactions on the blockchain will bring greater security, transferability, and future readiness. D.I. Khan New City will also characterize AR-VR and AI applications on multiple fronts.

Dubbed the “Crown of Pakistan”, the D.I. Khan New City is a hybrid development in Saiduwali, Paharpur, an area with close proximity to Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad, and Balochistan. The development, which spans an expansive area of 4.1 million sq. m, is valued at a whopping $233 million U.S., making it one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in Pakistan.

Rajab Ali Virani, CEO of Vision Tech stated,  “Shaariq.com ventured into Pakistan with a grand vision: Enhancing transactional efficiency and reducing the trust deficit by leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as blockchain. D.I. Khan New City is the ideal avenue to turn that vision into reality. We are determined to make this project an archetype of Pakistan’s real estate excellence while reinforcing our competitive edge in tech-enabled services.”

 “The Saif Group has nearly a hundred years of multi-industrial pedigree in Pakistan. At every juncture, we have exemplified the latest innovations of the time. D.I. Khan New City is a totem of our future-proof strategy and a legacy of our people-centric worldview. The MoU with Shaariq.com complements both these priorities,” said Jehangir Saifullah Khan, Chairman, JK&S Developers. 

Vision Tech is planning an expansion into African countries, where, through Shaariq.com, it intends to digitalize land records with the support of local authorities.

WadzPay, blockchain payments provider operating in the UAE, has teamed up with DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) Fintech Hive and Emirates NBD accelerator program, to offer payment features in the metaverse. This is a huge undertaking given that the metaverse economy is predicated to hit $13 trillion by 2030.  

Moreover this is especially significant in the UAE given that Dubai announced its metaverse strategy in July 2022. As per the strategy Dubai wants to attract 5000 blockchain and metaverse companies to the city by 2027. DIFC has been working through its regulatory arm DFSA to ensure the proper regulatory environment for crypto tokens, security tokens, and is considered by VARA as one of the entities that can house regulated companies in this sphere.

Raja Al Mazrouei, Executive VP of DIFC Fintech Hive was quoted saying, “The 10-week global accelerator programme for metaverse start-ups reaffirms our commitment to support Dubai’s ambition to be among the top 10 metaverse economies in the world.”

We all know that for the metaverse to be successful, payment services in the metaverse will not only have to be seamless but extremely secure as well as compliant. Each metaverse will have to have a robust payment method or it won’t be a fully functional experience.

Noteworthy as well is that Emirates NBD has stated that it intends to build up its 3D capabilities, creating virtual worlds to augment the customer experience and enabling a decentralised payment infrastructure for customers to create, monetise, buy and sell digital assets and services.

Now let’s put it all together, Dubai wants to be a metaverse hub; the UAE has already piloted a CBDC project not only with Saudi Arabia but also other central banks with the wholesale CBDC project Mbridge which is in partnership with BIS and Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Thailand and Central Bank of China. The Mbridge pilot has already commenced with commercial banks in 2022.

So far 105 countries across the globe are exploring CBDCs, with only 9 percent of countries having actually launched a CBDC.

For those not familiar with WadzPay, it is an interoperable and agnostic blockchain payments ecosystem that was founded in Singapore in 2018 but is currently operating across Asia and the Middle East with offices in UAE. As per their website, the company has been working with large payment companies, banks, on CBDC rollouts and digital assets transactions and settlements.

So when Anish Jain Founder & Group Chief Executive Officer of WadzPay announced on LinkedIn, that the company is working with DIFC Fintech hub and Emirates NBD accelerator program to enable financial services in the metaverse, it was newsworthy.  

LaraontheBlock, asked Jain what this meant and how they were working with DIFC, his reply, “WadzPay established its presence in UAE in 2020 with its DIFC entity. The DIFC FinTech hive provided tools to grow our business. It is also the breeding ground for innovation. WadzPay Chain is purpose built for payments and is metaverse ready. Together with the WadzPay payments ecosystem it will provide users with optionality, agility and access into the metaverse while making traditional payments efficient.”

In conclusion, maybe we will be witnessing the first complete financial service and payment offering in a metaverse experience within the UAE sooner than we think. A digital wallet that would or could hold CBDC, stablecoins, crypto that users in the metaverse could utilize for the purchase of digital assets or representations of physical assets as NFTs securely and compliantly.

We will know which start-ups have been chosen to implement these projects with Emirates NBD as they will be announced during Gitex2022.

 In the end it is only when you can garner valued economic activity in the metaverse will the metaverse actually have any sort of true utility.

On the side-lines, it was also interesting to see that WadzPay had signed a strategic partnership with FIGA an enterprise in the Republic of Congo to tokenize the rights of reserves of potash, phosphate and iron which will be extracted over the next 25 years. WadzPay is expected to tokenize $4 billion worth of assets for foreign direct investment.

WadzPay also partnered with Algorand Blockchain where it will utilize Algorand platform in multiple proof of concept-stage projects including Asia and Africa-based CBDC launches.