Chainalysis the blockchain data platform, has joined Emirates NBD, digital asset Lab. Chainalysis, the blockchain data platform, will join professional services firm PwC, digital asset transfer and direct custody technology platform Fireblocks, and R3, an enterprise Distributed ledger technology platform, as founding council members of the Lab.

According to the press release, Chainalysis’ expertise in blockchain analysis and compliance will strengthen the Digital Asset Lab by contributing to the development of innovative financial products and services that are compliant and secure.

As a national bank known for innovation, Emirates NBD plans to leverage Chainalysis’ analytics and investigative capabilities to further discern market trends and customer needs, while enhancing the integrity of the bank’s digital asset initiatives.

The strategic alliance demonstrates Emirates NBD’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of regulatory compliance in the rapidly evolving digital finance landscape.

Miguel Rio Tinto, Group Chief Digital and Information Officer at Emirates NBD, said, “As a leading local bank that has always been committed to innovation, Emirates NBD is proud to partner with Chainalysis and welcomes the company to the Digital Asset Lab to pave the way for pioneering solutions in the financial sector. By partnering with Chainalysis, the bank aims to provide a more transparent and reliable digital finance environment for customers, thereby fostering greater trust and confidence in the bank’s digital offerings.”

Nicola Buonanno, VP Southern EMEA at Chainalysis, added, “Financial institutions play a pivotal role in sculpting the future of digital assets, offering secure avenues for investor engagement with the right risk mitigation measures. Chainalysis is excited to collaborate with Emirates NBD through its Digital Asset Lab, leveraging its data and solutions to facilitate safe and transparent digital asset services. Together with the Emirates NBD, we aim to forge a resilient financial sector, fostering confidence and further advancing the UAE’s leadership in digital assets innovation.”

The Digital Asset Lab was announced in May 2023 at the Dubai FinTech Summit, with the goal of enabling and accelerating digital asset and financial services innovation in the UAE. As a bank committed to providing customers greater access to a wide range of financial products, Emirates NBD is establishing a robust platform with industry experts for the development of innovative ideas in financial services using digital assets and its underlying technologies.

The Lab focuses purely on digital assets and how underlying technologies can be leveraged to enable customers to effectively manage their financial services requirements in the evolving and dynamic environment of digital assets.

Oman based Mamun Ventures announced that it will be investing $1 million in Shariah compliant startups and digital asset startups.

As per a LinkedIn post Mamun stated, “Exciting News!  Mamun is dedicating $1,000,000 USD to Invest in Sharia-Compliant Startups in MENA Region! We’re thrilled to announce that Mamun Ventures is allocating $1,000,000 USD in funding from our generous partners to fuel our mission of investing in innovative startups across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.”

Startups in the MENA region, at early stages, pre-seed or seed stages are eligible.

Mamun notes that they are interesting in startups that have a marketplace angle and involve supply chain participants.

Mohammed Al-Tamami speaking to LaraontheBock stated, “We will also be investing in Shariah compliant digital assets, Web3 companies, crypto entities covering the entire Shariah compliant space.”

In December 2023, UAE and Singapore based Triterras, a fintech company focused on digital trade and supply chain finance, using Blockchain enabled trade finance platform Kratos, partnered with Oman based Mamun, fintech infrastructure provider to bolster trade finance in Oman.

In February of this year, Oman’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning (MoHUP) announced its roadmap for 2024 which will encompass 130 initiatives of which blockchain technology will play a part.  The Oman Ministry of Housing intends to launch a unified portal with one of its main components being blockchain.

Oman was also one of the first countries in the MENA region to launch crypto mining datacenters.

GCC ( Gulf Cooperation Council) and MENA based Investcorp, a global alternative investment firm has led a $15 million investment round for BitMe a Spanish crypto exchange. Included in the list of investors was Telefonica Ventures, Stratminds VC, Cardano, and YGG Fund.

In April 2022 GCC headquartered Investcorp, launched eLydian Lion, the first dedicated institutional blockchain fund based in the GCC, with a global investment mandate (the “Fund”). The Blockchain ELydian Lion Fund, was led from Investcorp’s Abu Dhabi office UAE office, and was deployed globally with a focus on investments in companies leading the next digital evolution driven by blockchain technology.

At the time Investcorp noted that the Fund would mainly invest in early-stage companies operating in areas within the blockchain ecosystem such as blockchain infrastructure, platforms and exchanges, DeFi, (decentralized finance), and data analytics.

Fast forward, Investcorp has now invested in Bit2Me which will use the funds to grow its position in Spain, where the company was born, and to accelerate its expansion in Latin America.

“This funding will boost our acquisition of new customers specially thanks to Investcorp, an international partner with significant financial muscle, and to Telefónica, who will give us more channels in Latin America,” Leif Ferreira, co-founder and CEO of Bit2Me, said in a statement.

In July 2022, Bit2Me acquired a majority stake in the Peruvian peer Fluyez, in what was the first step of a search for acquisition opportunities in Chile, Colombia and Uruguay, the company said at the time.

In February, Bit2Me obtained approval from the Bank of Spain to be the first provider of services for the exchange of virtual currency for fiat currency and the custody of digital wallets.

Hervé François, Partner of the Blockchain/Digital Assets fund at Investcorp who is based in Abu Dhabi, stated on LinkedIn, “ I am thrilled to announce that I am joining the Board of Directors of Bit2Me alongside Investcorp Blockchain Fund’s investment in their latest round.”

He adds, “We are pleased to lead the investment in Bit2Me, a leading player in the digital asset space. Bit2Me is well positioned to capitalize on the growth in this rapidly evolving market, and Investcorp will actively support its strong management team. Very much looking forward to witnessing Bit2Me’s international growth as the best is yet to come!”

Investcorp becomes the second firm based out of GCC to invest in a crypto exchange, prior to that MEVP invested in Bahrain’s RAIN crypto exchange. The round was led by Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), with participation of other global investors at the time.

In a recent tweet, Qatar’s AhliBank warned customers against, trading, buying and selling virtual assets and currencies through accounts and banking services, citing the reasons as being associated with high risks.

According to the statement, “The regulators have banned trading, buying and selling virtual assets and currencies through accounts and banking services, as they are associated with high risks. Please be careful and don’t deal with any person or entity that provides trading services in virtual assets and currencies through your bank account and banking services, to avoid any risks that may arise as a result of trading in these virtual assets and currencies. “

The statement reflects the growing interest in clients for trading in virtual assets, while the regulatory authorities in Qatar specifically the Central Bank have yet to regulate this sector or introduce crypto exchange licenses. 

In 2022, CoinMENA, crypto broker exchange had announced that it was now serving clients in Qatar, as does Binance and other international crypto exchange platforms. 

Yet Qatar has been moving forward both in Blockchain, DLT, and digital assets with the recent news coming from Qatar Financial Authority Center which has just finalized its digital assets framework.

UAE digital assets infrastructure company, Zero Two, part of sovereign wealth fund ADQ, has purchased 7.3 million megawatt hours of clean energy from EWEC (Emirates Water and Electricity Company), a leading company in the integrated coordination of planning, purchasing, and supply of water and electricity across the UAE. This is the largest single purchase of Clean Energy Certificates (CECs) to date and the first in the digital assets infrastructure sector.

The purchase agreement was signed by Ahmed Al Hameli, Chief Executive Officer of Zero Two; and Othman Al Ali, Chief Executive Officer of EWEC.

Under the purchase agreement, EWEC will provide Zero Two with clean energy certificates to decarbonize its operations and support the company’s progress against sustainability objectives.

Othman Al Ali, Chief Executive Officer of EWEC, said, “Our clean energy transaction with Zero Two provides EWEC with a unique opportunity to further accelerate the country’s energy transition and decarbonization of industries in line with the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative.”

He added, “This first-of-its-kind transaction in the digital assets infrastructure sector, which also constitutes the largest ever single CECs purchase to date, demonstrates both EWEC’s and Zero Two’s commitment to supporting the nation’s sustainability and environmental agenda and is an example of the practical and tangible steps UAE entities can take to decarbonize their operations and address the pressing challenge of climate change.”

Ahmed Al Hameli, CEO of Zero Two, said, “The purchase of EWEC’s Clean Energy Certificates demonstrates our dedication to sustainability and commitment to decarbonizing our digital assets infrastructure. Operating our assets with clean energy enables us to support Abu Dhabi’s transformation into a sustainable economic powerhouse while also contributing to the UAE’s long-term vision of a net zero future.”

Zero Two recently partnered with Marathon Digital to build two  bitcoin mining farms in the UAE. 

While Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse was telling CNBC that the confusing regulation in the U.S. is pushing more crypto companies to the leave the country, Circle appointed its Vice President for Middle East and Africa, Miriam Kiwan.

Kiwan on LinkedIn stated, “I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Vice President, MEA at Circle!”

Earlier this month, the Circle team was present in Dubai UAE at a dinner hosted by Miriam Kiwan, the partner of Raiven Capital, now she is the VP for Middle East.

Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle Internet Financial, during an interview with Bloomberg, blamed the shrunken value of the company’s stablecoin, USD Coin, on regulatory challenges in the United States and concerns about its banking system.

Garlinghouse from Ripple, in his interview talked about the leadership qualities of Europe and UAE when it comes to the regulation of digital assets.

But this is not the only company that is eyeing the UAE, in a tweet , Blockchain IOTA Founder Dominik Schiener stated, “It was a pleasure to meet H.E. Abdulla Al Saleh and the team at the Ministry of Economy in UAE today. It’s impressive how they’re leading their digital transformation.”

He added, “We are looking forward to bring IOTA here and create value for the region and the world.”

In the comments it was noted, “Fingers crossed for an ongoing collaboration that propels IOTA to new heights!”