The Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA), the legal and tax arm of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC have signed an MOU with the Asian Institute of Digital Finance (AIDF), a research institute of the National University of Singapore (NUS), to embark on projects encompassing ESG, Fintech, digital assets, Web3 and other emerging technologies.

In addition to these efforts, both partners will actively facilitate the exchange of knowledge and insights to further their common goals and objectives.

Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, Chief Executive Officer, QFC, expressed his optimism about this partnership, stating, “We are excited to join forces with the Asian Institute of Digital Finance at the National University of Singapore to explore and capitalize on the numerous opportunities in the ever-evolving digital landscape. This partnership reflects our commitment to innovation and our belief in the power of collaboration to drive positive change. We see this collaboration as a significant step, not only in the direction of constructing a more inclusive financial sector but also in forging a path towards a more sustainable future.”

Likewise, Associate Professor Huang Ke Wei, Executive Director, NUS Asian Institute of Digital Finance expressed their enthusiasm for the collaboration, saying, “The NUS Asian Institute of Digital Finance empowers the future of finance through digital innovation and academic excellence, and provides thought leadership through a holistic blend of education, research, and business incubation. Our vision is to catalyse the evolution of the digital economy by fostering innovation and imparting knowledge. This collaboration with QFC marks a significant step towards fostering cross-regional knowledge exchange, setting the stage for a brighter, interconnected digital future.” The partnership between the QFC and NUS AIDF underscores their shared commitment to innovation and sustainability and catalysing positive global transformation by leveraging technology.

QFC has been moving forward with its digital asset strategy and framework.

A new report entitled, “Disrupt and Innovate: Harness the power of blockchain” published by Singapore Agile Dynamics, a research based consultancy services, blockchain technology will boost global gross domestic product (GDP) by US$2.1 trillion of the projected global GDP in 2030. Approximately half (49%) of the US$2.1 trillion will come from growth markets. This is especially important finding given the growth of blockchain implementation in the GCC and MENA region.

Countries such as Qatar, KSAUAE, and even Oman are building their capacities and use cases utilizing emergent technologies such as blockchain, AI, IoT and others, and their GDPs will be positively affected.

As per the report as well, customized layer 1 blockchain protocol offers potential benefits such as increased financial inclusion, reduced transaction costs, and improved transparency – all of which align with the concept of technology sovereignty. It empowers entities to have ownership and control of their data, while safeguarding their sovereignty, reducing dependence on external entities, being more competitive on the global stage, and both encouraging and supporting domestic technology companies.

The report also noted that as per the study, 73% of respondents consider that a reduction in operational costs will be one of the main advantages of blockchain technology. This is followed closely by 67% of respondents believing that a key advantage of blockchain will be improving speed and efficiency. Other advantages noted include improving security and privacy (55%), bringing innovation (50%), and financial processes (44%).

Agile Dynamics explores what the future of blockchain technology could look like, including next generation technology characteristics. The report maps out three stages of the blockchain technology maturity journey, which it names as Emerging Blockchain Technology, Next-Gen Blockchain, and Fourth Generation Chain. In the latter, a permissionless, decentralized, scalable blockchain protocol will be achieved. It will be focused on interoperability challenges, designed to provide the fastest and most efficient cross-chain interoperability, speed, scalability, and security. It will also integrate micro-validation and tokenization, amongst numerous other benefits.

Speaking on the report and its contents, Paul Lalovich, Managing Partner at Agile Dynamics, said: “The world of blockchain is evolving rapidly, and is becoming an increasingly vital component of our ultra-connected world. Our report demonstrates how blockchain could be the most effective solution to begin a technology sovereignty journey, thanks to its ability to support the concept through providing decentralisation, data ownership and privacy, open source principles, trust and security, interoperability and more. By leveraging blockchain, you have the ability for more control and autonomy over your technology infrastructure and systems. This reduces dependence on external entities, and helps to safeguard your sovereignty. Blockchain is also a distinct and cost-effect means to stimulate innovation and foster growth, particularly in an economic context, and it has been demonstrated to be more cost-effective than any other technology for building out a project with the highest forecasted compound annual growth rate through to 2030.”

Lalovich continued: “Agile Dynamics is committed to helping organizations to harness the power of technology, to achieve digital transformation and to create differentiation by applying technology in a practical business context. We use deep insights derived from data, as demonstrated in ‘Disrupt and Innovate: Harness the Power of Blockchain’, in combination with extensive experience across industries and applications to help our clients realize business opportunities for growth.”

Anthony Butler, the Chief Technology Officer for IBM MENA region who was based out of KSA, and is a blockchain, AI, metaverse expert has joined Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) as a senior advisor.

He announced the new position on LinkedIn saying, “I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Senior Advisor at Saudi Central Bank – SAMA! As a senior advisor to SAMA I will be focused on  first of a kind applications of emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence, distributed ledger technologies, quantum, and advanced cryptography in support of payments innovations (such as CBDC, stable coins, and tokenization), transformation of Suptech/Regtech, green finance,  open finance, decentralized finance (DeFi), and cybersecurity.

Anthony Butler had spent 15 years as chief technology officer for IBM in the Middle East and Africa working in emerging technologies, with a specific focus on the application of artificial intelligence, blockchain and metaverse technologies.

Anthony is well versed speaker and writer on emerging technologies. On his Blog page he talked about the impact of emerging technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, on societies and economies. 

He also notes on his page, that he lives in and supports the development of one of the most exciting and future-oriented places in the world, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

In one of his articles he discusses the collapse of FTX currency exchange, and believes there is a need to evolve new models of decentralized finance that will mitigate risks. He adds that if a person does not own their keys they cannot own their digital tokens.

He notes, “Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is likely to hold the long term answer to much of this: decentralized exchanges will use blockchain technologies to remove the need for trust.  They will provide permissionless, transparent, exchange services where users will have self-sovereign custody of their digital assets without the need to transfer control to a centralized authority to manage on their behalf.”

Anthony Butler had also been involved in KSA Central Bank’s ABER CBDC project with the UAE Central Bank. At the time he noted in a tweet, “What is new and challenging is we are designing it so that it can be issued by two central banks simultaneously.  Many hard problems being solved and lots of lessons to be learned but exciting times ahead; and great example of the visionary leadership of both @SAMA_GOV and CBUAE.”

This is not the first major appointment of an expert in the digital asset, blockchain space by SAMA, prior to this they had appointed Mr. Mohsen AlZahrani, Virtual Assets (VA) and CBDC program Lead, who was recently discussing KSA’s wholesale CBDC project at R3 Corda Day in UAE.