The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE)is planning for phase two implementation for domestic CBDC payments after the Central Bank with the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub Hong Kong Centre, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Bank of Thailand, and the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China, launched the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) platform of the mBridge project. Mbridge is a multi-central bank digital currency (CBDC) common platform for wholesale cross-border payments and settlement.

CBUAE is planning for Phase 2 implementation, which includes domestic CBDC payments and further enhancements of cross-border fund transfers.

The CBUAE anticipates the growing use of the mBridge platform for cross-border payments among the participating jurisdictions. Ongoing reviews and enhancements are also underway as the platform progresses towards a full production launch. This is the first multi-CBDC platform which has reached the MVP phase, ready for use by early adopters.

In January 2024, His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Presidential Court and Chairman of the Board of the CBUAE, initiated the first cross-border payment of ‘Digital Dirham’, the CBUAE’s CBDC, to China worth AED50 million through mBridge. It also marked the first real-value cross-border CBDC payment between a MENA country and a country outside the region on an MVP-ready platform.

To date, a number of UAE licensed financial institutions (LFIs) have been onboarded onto the mBridge platform, with collaborative efforts underway for to accelerate its adoption. Onboarded LFIs are now ready to initiate and process cross-border CBDC payments with their counterparts of the participating jurisdictions.

According to the Central Bank of UAE press release, the mBridge platform is a key initiative under the CBUAE’s Financial Infrastructure Transformation (FIT) programme which seeks to accelerate the digital transformation of the UAE’s financial services sector. The deployment, testing and launch of the mBridge MVP comes as part of the CBUAE’s Phase 1 implementation of its broader CBDC strategy, supported by the use of the Digital Dirham.

Presently, the CBUAE is planning for Phase 2 implementation, which includes domestic CBDC payments and further enhancements of cross-border fund transfers. Utilizing distributed ledger technology, the mBridge project aims to connect economies through a multi-CBDC platform to help support international trade and cooperation, whilst overcoming challenges of existing cross-border payment systems and offering efficient, low-cost, and instant cross-border payments settled in central bank money.

Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the CBUAE, said, “The CBUAE’s participation in mBridge aligns with our strategic objectives of promoting innovation, efficiency, and financial inclusion in the financial services sector. By collaborating with our international partners, we aim to contribute to the development of a more robust, efficient, economical, interconnected and instant global payments infrastructure that benefits all participants, while maintaining the highest security standards.”

A few days prior to this announcement, the Central Bank of UAE approved the issuance of a regulation for licensing and overseeing stablecoins and a series of policies aimed at supporting the banking, insurance, and financial services sectors.

 The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) has announced the completion of the development of the infrastructure for the Central Bank Digital Currency Project (CBDC) and the commencement of testing of CBDC for settlement of large payments with local banks. According to the press release, this initiative will serve as a proactive step to keep pace with the rapid global developments in this field.

Qatar Central Bank confirms that, after successfully completing the comprehensive study conducted in this field, it will proceed with testing and developing selected applications for the CBDC to settle large payments with a group of local and international banks in a trial environment designed according to the latest advanced technologies.

The project will focus on the applications of the CBDC to increase access to capital markets for operating banks in the country, enhance domestic settlement, and improve the efficiency of securities transactions.

This project, which will enter its first experimental phase extending to October 2024, aims to achieve a set of primary objectives, including leveraging artificial intelligence technologies, distributed ledger technology (DLT), and emerging technologies and establish a strong foundation to enhance liquidity by expanding participation in financial market facilities, considering the aspects related to information security during project implementation.

In line with the Third Financial Sector Strategy, the Fintech Strategy, and Qatar National Vision 2030, and based on Qatar Central Bank’s ongoing efforts to regulate and develop the financial sector in the country, Qatar Central Bank announced the completion of the development of the infrastructure for the Central Bank Digital Currency Project (CBDC), QCB said in a press release.

This project reflects Qatar Central Bank’s full commitment to contributing to digital transformation within the financial sector, noting in this context that the start of the CBDC project represents an important milestone and a strategic step towards building a digital economy in the country.

It was also noted that the results of this experiment will be the cornerstone towards identifying the different use cases that the Qatar Central Bank will adopt in the future, which will contribute to enhancing the efficiency of the current systems and instant settlement.

In April 2023 Qatar Financial Centre Authority and Blockchain solution provider R3 signed an MOU to develop and grow Qatar’s fintech industry using technologies such as DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology). Soon after, QFC announced one of the biggest digital assets initiatives in the country and the GCC region, the Qatar Innovation Dome for digital assets. The digital assets lab will develop tokenization platforms and ecosystems for everything that has value whether tangible assets or intangible assets including real estate assets, securities, Sukuk, bonds and others in the future utilizing DLT ( distributed ledger technologies), blockchain, and smart contracts.

In May 2024 The Hashgraph Association (THA), the Swiss-based organization at the forefront of global digital enablement, signed a strategic partnership with the Qatar Financial Centre to launch a Digital Assets Venture Studio, a platform to support local Qatari and international portfolio companies in the development of regulatory-compliant decentralized finance (DeFi) solutions and digital assets built on the Hedera Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) network.


The $50 million digital assets venture studio will focus on investments in Hedera-powered Web3 startups and enterprises building bankable DeFi solutions. The program will span over the next five years (2024-2028) with The Hashgraph Association investing $10million (20%).

Money Tokenization built on blockchain just got an enormous boost with the launch of UAE and Egyptian based Pravica’s S3 (Stablecoin Studio on Sui) testnet during the CV Summit Africa 2024.

Less than two months after publicizing the launch of S3.Money on the Sui Blockchain, The S3 testnet is now up and running, welcoming developers and financial community to start building tokenized money whether CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) or stablecoins.

According to Pravica blog post, the S3 platform is set to revolutionize the global payment processing landscape by allowing money to be tokenized in a versatile and user-friendly way swiftly and securely. The premise is financial empowerment with blockchain based money tokenization, because the future of money is all about innovation and accessibility.
Mohamed Abdou Founder and CEO of Pravica, explaining the concept states, “With S3, issuing and managing CBDC or stablecoins are a matter of clicks!”


S3 Money is a solution that caters not only to up and coming stablecoin issuers such as central banks, retail banks, and DeFi (Decentralized Finance) projects, but also to existing stablecoin issuers including the creators of Tether (USDT), Circle (USDC) by offering them the ability to simplify, quickly issue, manage and create different treasury layers for their respective stablecoins.

As per Pravica, gone are the days of building and auditing smart contracts, S3’s innovation solution on Sui, bring stablecoins to life through a streamlined process of stablecoin issuance just by defining the parameters.


S3 also helps to maintain the stablecoin ecosystem through S3’s intuitive management dashboard. The dashboard monitors supply and demand in real-time, tracking transactions easily and allowing for adjustments along the way.


Pravica has introduced a feature in S3, called ‘Relations’, which allows clients to establish a secure, multi-layered hierarchy for sub-wallets within a client’s stablecoin ecosystem. Imagine creating permissioned access structures for different user groups, or designating sub-wallets for specific departments within your organization.
The platform enhances treasury command with built-in proof-of-reserve functionality and seamless integration with on-chain oracles. Integrated KYC/AML features prioritize compliance, strengthening due diligence with qualified identity verification services.
All this has been enabled because S3 leverages the secure and blazing-fast Sui blockchain for unparalleled stability and transaction speed.
The one-stop streamlined experience is unparalleled because of the intuitive capable administration with role-based controls, that allow the effortless configuration and management of tokenized money.


As Abdou explains, “Based on the adoption we are already seeing and our deep experience with international payment systems, we are convinced that stablecoins will revolutionize the global payments industry.”

This comes as Pravica has rebranded, revamped and restructured their offering into a more comprehensive blockchain infrastructure solution provider. Pravica is offering solutions for a trustworthy and transformative digital landscape utilizing secure, efficient, and innovative blockchain solutions.

In a Linkedin Post, Bryan D’Souza, Head of Business Development and Partnerships MENA at R3 expressed his positivity to be back in Oman discussing the Central Bank of Oman’s interest in CBDC and digital tokenization.

He had recently moved to the region and settled in Abu Dhabi UAE to expand R3 partnerships in the GCC and MENA region.

He stated, “It’s fantastic to be back in Muscat, Oman with David E Rutter and Robert Wigley visiting senior representatives of the Central Bank of Oman today to discuss their interest in CBDC and digital tokenization.”

In June 2022, The Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman, Mr. Tahir Salim Al Amri, commented during the 7th Edition of the new Age Banking Summit on the topic of CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) the interest of the bank in a CBDC project.

Furthermore at the end of July 2023, the Oman Capital Market Authority issued a Public Consultation Paper on its Virtual Assets Regulatory Framework.

R3 has been working with Central banks, FMIs, commercial banks, FinTech, providing practical solutions for digital assets tokenization and regulated digital currencies, including CBDCs.

D’Souza had previously visited several countries including Kuwait, KSA, and Qatar.

R3 is also working with both the UAE Central Bank on its CBDC project as well as Saudi Central Bank.

In addition the Qatar Financial Centre Authority and R3 signed an MOU to develop and grow Qatar’s fintech industry using technologies such as DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) back in April 2023.

Pave Bank, digital bank for businesses to transact in stablecoins, Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and tokenized Real World Assets (RWAs) is seeking regulatory license in UAE as it expands its operations to MENA.

Pave Bank, an approved digital banking license from Georgia and a US$5.2M seed funding round led by 468 Capital with participation from Quona Capital, FT Partners, BR Capital, w3.fund, Daedalus and angel investors has launched.

Pave Bank is the world’s first fully regulated commercial bank where clients can not only get the best in class business banking products (such as multi-currency operating accounts, global payment connectivity, and treasury management solutions) but will also have access to multi-asset custody, virtual IBANs, safeguarding accounts and PaveNet, which is a multi-asset, always instant and always on network of Pave Bank customers.

Salim Dhanani, Co-Founder & CEO of Pave Bank commented: “We have set out to address limitations of today’s financial system that lacks transparency, remains restricted to certain time-windows (clearing and settlement, for example) and is riddled with intermediaries. All of this increases costs, management complexity and also limits the products and services which can be accessed by the majority of businesses and especially, for those operating globally. In parallel, we have seen a number of innovative products that have been created in the digital asset space, but sometimes with a lack of regulation and safety for users. We are championing a new path where Pave Bank customers will get access to the financial products that they are used to, but also a range of digital asset enabled products which will help them bank more efficiently within a regulated and secure environment.”

As programmability in financial services takes off, Pave Bank offers a fresh, secure and regulated platform for businesses to transact in stablecoins, Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and tokenized Real World Assets (RWAs). Salim Dhanani added: “There are two major trends that led us to create Pave Bank. Firstly, blockchain is being integrated into the traditional financial system – with stablecoins, CBDCs included, and tokenized RWAs. We are seeing the financial system be built on new operating languages for the first time in over fifty years. Secondly, regulation is here, it’s here to stay, and for the better. We are seeing this narrative evolve around the world – in Singapore, Hong Kong, Georgia, UAE, UK, across the EU and the green shoots in the USA, amongst many others. As a fully regulated digital bank with a proprietary technology stack, we are right at the swell of the programmable financial system wave.”

Pave Bank has started the regulatory journey with a digital commercial banking license in Georgia and plans to continue to build its regulatory infrastructure globally. Georgia is strategically positioned between Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with close ties to the European Union. Its robust and transparent regulatory architecture has attracted a large number of businesses as it seeks to become a financial services hub in the region.

The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) and the People’s Bank of China has signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to enhance technical and technological cooperation in the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDC), going beyond initial collaboration on mBridge CBDC project.

As per the UAE Central Bank press release, the signings will enhance the strategic partnership between the two friendly nations and expand the bilateral relations in the financial and economic fields.

His Excellency Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of CBUAE, and His Excellency Pan Gongsheng, Governor of the People’s Bank of China, signed the MOU in Hong Kong in presence of the UAE Counsel General in Hong Kong, H.E. Shaikh Saoud Ali Almualla.

The CBDC MoU aims to enhance collaboration central bank digital currency development and strengthen cooperation between CBUAE and the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China in the field of financial technology. The MoU will enable the exchange of information on best practices and regulations relating to digital currencies and support the implementation of joint initiatives and projects, including the “mBridge” project which is a multi central bank digital currencies platform in facilitating cross-border trade payments instantly and securely.

The MoU also includes cooperation in training and skills development for specialists on both sides and the exchange of bilateral visits to discuss matters of common interest.

Commenting on the signing, H.E Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of CBUAE, stated, “We look forward to strengthening cooperation with our partners on innovation and solutions in financial technology including central bank digital currency to support the growth of our economy and society.”

Earlier,according to a Chinese media article, the Bank of China announced during The 3rd “Belt and Road” Summit Forum a list of 369 practical cooperation projects of which was an MOU signed with FAB bank of cooperation in digital currency.

Concurrently Standard Chartered announced its participation in the pilot testing program of China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) known as the digital Yuan (e-CNY or digital RMB). This move makes Standard Chartered the first foreign bank to engage with the country’s CBDC. According to the announcement, Standard Chartered, in collaboration with City Bank Clearing Services Co, will facilitate e-CNY transactions for its clients. It will allow them to purchase exchange and redeem e-CNY within their bank accounts.

 It is noteworthy that Standard Chartered’s backed digital asset platform, Zodia markets, received an In-Principle Approval (IPA) fulfilling the pre-requisites to receive a Financial Services Permission (FSP) for OTC broker-dealer in virtual assets by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Abu Dhabi’s international financial center.

Standard Chartered’s , venture arm SC Ventures, an innovation and fintech investment arm recently partnered with Japanese SBI Holdings to establish a Digital Asset Joint Venture investment company in UAE. The parties intend to capitalize the vehicle with $100 million. The company will invest in DeFi, tokenization, consumer payments and metaverse.

As many know the R3 team developed Corda the first native private, permissioned DLT platform that is not only secure and regulatory-compliant by design, but has facilitated hundreds of networks across financial services.

As per R3 applications developed on their tokenization platform Corda, harness the power of R3’s distributed ledger technology (DLT), connected networks and regulated markets expertise all aimed at driving transformation in digital finance.

R3 has been a strong proponent in the Middle East and GCC region working with governments and enterprise on several projects, most prominently the CBDC projects in Saudi Arabia and UAE.

In addition the Qatar Financial Centre Authority and R3 signed an MOU to develop and grow Qatar’s fintech industry using technologies such as DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) back in April 2023.

So it was not surprising to read on LinkedIn that Bryan D’Souza, Strategic Alliances & Partner Ecosystem Lead for EMEA at R3 stated, “I am thrilled to have experienced my first trip to Kuwait over the last couple of days as part of a mini GCC tour. I am grateful for the warm welcome from our great partners and potential clients. The hospitality of the Kuwaiti people left a lasting impression; warm, friendly, and eager to collaborate.”

He added, “Exciting opportunities ahead and looking forward to returning back to Kuwait soon!”

It sounds like the beginning of a project or several in Kuwait, which has been slow when it comes to blockchain adoption and implementation.

It seems Kuwait’s stance on Blockchain is changing as recently Salman Salah Bader Ali Naqi, who began his PhD study in the Department of Economics in January 2023, has been awarded the 2022 Kuwaiti Economic Student Award for his research titled “Digitalizing the Trade Finance Industry in Kuwait: A Transaction Cost Perspective of Blockchain-based Letters of Credit”.

The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) held a ceremony to honor the top three winners of the Kuwaiti Economic Student Award on November 9th 2023. The CBK Governor and Chairman of the Institute of Banking Studies (IBS), Basel Ahmed Al-Haroon, attended alongside a number of key figures from the banking and finance sector.

The winners were presented with certificates of merit and commemorative gifts, and Salman’s paper, as first-prize winning research paper, will be printed, published and distributed “to serve as a reference for those wishing to benefit from sound research”.

The Kuwaiti Economic Student Award is part of the Kafa’a initiative, set up to encourage scientific research in the economic and banking fields through motivating young people to enhance their research competence in the banking and finance areas.

The Russian news state agency reported that the Central Bank of Russia is ready to cooperate with UAE regulators to build a system for fast payments and settlements using digital ruble CBDC. The CBDC will be used by both individuals as well as businesses once the issue of KYC is resolved.

The comments were made by First Deputy Governor Olga Skorobogatova said at the Finopolis forum.

Skorobogatova stated, “We will work out the fast payment system and the CBDC [central banks digital currency – TASS] because the colleagues are ready with the digital ruble and we are ready. If we solve the issue of client identification, then I think we will be able to build up a normal system of payments for citizens and the business between the two our countries in a year at the least,” she said.

Moveover, the Bank of Russia continues testing the digital ruble in a limited pilot program that started in August with 13 private banks. At Finopolis, head of the Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina said the pilot is on track and will expand next year to more users. 

As for the UAE, it is also piloting its CBDC project working with Blockchain tech players such as R3.


The Ethereum Riyadh 2023 conference held on October 11th brought together an array of blockchain experts and entities, including Saudi Digital advisor for a Saudi governmental entity, who gave a presentation on embracing DeFi for business excellence. As per the press release, Abdulelah Aloshayni, digital transformation advisor at a Saudi Governmental entity provided a clear understanding of DeFi and discussed potential applications for large companies and government organizations.

This is no surprise given the work that for example SAMA ( Saudi Central Bank) is doing on CBDC, virtual assets and DeFi. Saudi Central Bank had hired Mohsen Al Zahrani to lead their digital assets and CBDC projects.

Abdulelah Aloshayni gave a presentation on “Embrace DeFi for Business Excellence.” He provided a clear understanding of DeFi and discussed potential applications for large companies and government organizations.

ETH Riyadh 2023 conference successfully took place at the CODE Lab of King Saud University at Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. ETH Riyadh 2023, Web3 technology summit, was dedicated to the Ethereum ecosystem and blockchain technology, aiming to gather developers and builders from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and other regions in the Middle East.

ETH Riyadh emphasized a strong technical focus and aimed to provide insights from industry experts, fostering discussions on blockchain and Web3 cutting-edge technologies.

The ETH Riyadh organizing committee was composed of Tharawat Technology, Studio1727, ChainIDE, Coffee with Crypto, and Mask Network. The event received guidance and support from the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Saudi Internet Association, and the KACST Digital Entrepreneurship Center. It was generously sponsored by Ankr (Title Sponsor), with presenting sponsorship from Chiliz, as well as support from Zilliqa, Adaverse, SAO Network, Onekey, Matrix World, and more than ten other Web3 projects.

Over 150 participants attended the event.  The ETH Riyadh 2023 conference kicked off with a keynote address by Tim Beiko, a representative of the Ethereum Foundation, who presented “Ethereum Governance Overview.” Tim Beiko outlined various ways to engage in Ethereum technology development and contributions, along with collaboration opportunities.

In the first roundtable discussion, Anton Agafonov, Product Lead at Zilliqa, Arpit Sharma, Managing Partner for the Middle East, India, and East Asia at the Near Foundation, and Aqeel Mohammad from the Ethereum Foundation discussed “L1/L2: Web3 Infrastructures and Innovations  from various perspectives, sharing their insights on Web3 infrastructure and innovation.

Xiao Wu, the founder of ChainIDE, then spoke on “The Road to Mass Adoption: Web3 Ecosystem in East Asia x Middle East Africa Region.” He shared insights into the development of Web3 ecosystems in East Asia and the Middle East and Africa regions, discussed the digital economy’s opportunities, and analyzed attempts and cases of large-scale applications in different regions.

While Dr. Waleed Aloriny, Chairman of the Saudi Internet Association, delivered a welcome address and moderated a special roundtable discussion on “Opportunities of Web3 Technology in Saudi.” Yasser Alobaidan, CEO of Tharawat Technology, Xiao Wu, Founder of ChainIDE, Stanley Wu, CTO of Ankr, and Alex Dreyfus, CEO of Chiliz, participated in the discussion. Representatives from various sectors engaged in lively discussions on Saudi’s entrepreneurial environment, policy regulations, Web3 development, digital economic opportunities, and international cooperation. Web3 entrepreneurs present recognized Saudi Arabia as a significant opportunity and expressed their desire to deepen their business and collaborations in the region.

ETH Riyadh 2023 marked a significant milestone as the first dedicated Web3 developer and blockchain technology summit in the Saudi Arabian region, particularly in Riyadh. This event represents a major advancement in the Web3 developer ecosystem of Saudi Arabia. ETH Riyadh has contributed to the flourishing of the local blockchain developer community, providing a platform for learning and networking for local developers and entrepreneurs.

The event has not only attracted local participants but also garnered attention from experts and investors from around the world. It serves as a crucial role in driving the development of blockchain technology in Saudi Arabia, offering a pivotal opportunity for exploring and shaping the future of the blockchain field. Furthermore, it plays a role in promoting digital innovation and economic growth in Saudi Arabia.

Xiao Wu, Founder of ChainIDE and a member of the ETH Riyadh organizing committee, expressed, “ETH Riyadh is the first summit in the Saudi region that focuses on blockchain technology and Web3 developers. It serves as a superhub for the local technology community and ecosystem development. Saudi Arabia is currently experiencing a pivotal period of rapid growth in the digital economy, and blockchain and Web3 technologies are integral components of the next generation of digital economies. We look forward to ETH Riyadh 2024, expecting to attract more builders in blockchain technology and facilitate increased collaboration and exchange among developers in the East Asia and Middle East and Africa regions.”

According to a recent Chinese media article, the Bank of China announced during The 3rd “Belt and Road” Summit Forum a list of 369 practical cooperation projects of which was an MOU signed with FAB bank of cooperation in digital currency.

The 32nd project listed cited, “Bank of China signed a digital currency cooperation memorandum with the First Bank of Abu Dhabi, and signed a global strategic cooperation memorandum with the Saudi International Electric Power and Water Company. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Hungarian Ministry of Economic Development signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation.”

UAE FAB bank, (First Abu Dhabi Bank), recently announced the successful completion of its J.P Morgan’s Coin blockchain based cross border payments.

This comes as China and the UAE work together on the CBDC Mbridge project which is supposed to launch its MVP (Minimum viable Product) form soon.

In addition the Central Bank of the UAE is also preparing for its on CBDC issuance which is expected sometime in 2024. The Central Bank of UAE as well as The Saudi Central Bank SAMA are working both with R3 on their CBDC projects.