Fils, a UAE based enterprise-grade digital infrastructure provider enabling companies to embed sustainability and climate action into their business models using technologies such as Blockchain has partnered with Arab Financial Services (AFS), the Middle East and Africa region’s leading digital payment solutions provider and fintech enabler.

As per the press release, the collaboration marks a significant step towards fostering sustainable practices and driving climate action across industries in the region. Leveraging Fils’s state-of-the-art fintech technology and AFS’s expertise and regional leadership position in digital payments, the partnership will be key to helping integrate sustainability seamlessly into businesses’ operations, customer journeys, and financial transactions.

AFS, which has offices in Bahrain, Egypt, Oman, and the UAE, offers digital payments solutions and fintech, serving over 60 clients across more than 20 countries in the Middle East and Africa region. Fils’ partnership with AFS enables a significant proportion of banks, financial institutions, and organizations in the MEA to track and mitigate their emissions, aiding the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

Samer Soliman, CEO of AFS commented, “We are proud to join forces with Fils in a strategic partnership to drive sustainable solutions within the digital payments landscape. This collaboration directly supports our ESG strategic goals by accelerating their implementation. As a leading digital payments provider, we embrace the responsibility to drive sustainability not only for ourselves but also empower our partners and clients to achieve their own environmental ambitions.”

Nameer Khan, CEO of Fils, said, “We are thrilled to embark on this strategic partnership with Arab Financial Services. By combining our advanced digital infrastructure with AFS’s leadership in electronic payments outsourcing, we have a unique opportunity to drive positive change across industries in the MENA region. Our shared commitment to sustainability and climate action will not only transform business operations but also redefine the landscape of responsible finance in the region and beyond.”

Key highlights of the partnership between Fils and AFS include:

  • Sustainable Digital Transformation: Fils’ enterprise-grade digital infrastructure will empower AFS to seamlessly integrate sustainability and climate action into its payments ecosystem. This includes developing innovative solutions that contribute to reduced carbon footprints and environmental impact.  
  • Green Financial Products: The collaboration will explore opportunities to introduce sustainable financial products, with a specific focus on Islamic Credit Cards. By incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles, both organisations aim to set new industry standards for responsible and ethical financial services.
  • Enhanced Customer Experiences: Fils and AFS will work together to enhance customer journeys by providing eco-friendly and sustainable options for electronic payments. This includes the development of user-friendly interfaces that promote responsible consumer choices and a positive environmental impact.
  • Industry Leadership in Sustainability: As pioneers in their respective fields, Fils and AFS will lead the financial and digital industries in the MENA region towards a more sustainable future. By combining their strengths, the partnership seeks to inspire businesses to prioritise sustainability in their business strategies and take measurable action to tackle climate change.

Fils’ partnership with AFS is hot on the heels of an impressive roster of collaborations so far this year. Exciting partnerships with e& Enterprise, Mashreq Bank and Flowcarbon have cemented Fils’ place as a global leader in sustainable financial infrastructure.

In addition Fils recently announced its expansion into Pakistan through a partnership with TPS, a digital banking and payments solution provider that powers banks, digital banks, FinTechs, payment processors, merchants, and telecoms around the world. The collaboration aims to make a lasting impact on the international stage, embedding climate action at the core of digital financial services.

On behalf of the Hong Kong SAR Government, the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC) signed an MoU with the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) with the goal of deepening the collaboration across multiple financial services areas between Qatar and Hong Kong including digital assets.

The Hong Kong and Mainland China delegates to Qatar have had numerous group meetings and networking opportunities with the local Qatar stakeholders – QFC, QIA, QDB ( Qatar Development Bank), Invest Qatar, Qatar Foundation, QSTP, regulators, investors, family offices, channel partners in digital assets, fintech, wealth management, to deepen the collaboration and uncover concrete business opportunities.

This MoU signing is a follow-up from an earlier visit to Qatar by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui, in 2023. Since then, Qatar leaders also visited Hong Kong during the Asian Financial Forum in early 2024.

King Leung, Global Head of Financial Services and Fintech, InvestHK told Qatar Pennisula media, that “Qatar can leverage Hong Kong’s strengths to its advantage. In Hong Kong, we have been experimenting lots of innovation such as tokenization and digital assets and would like to work more closely with Qatar.”

Sharing his perspectives on the intersection between fintech and AI, Global Head of Financial Services and Fintech Leung stated, “We are seeing the intersection of AI, big data, blockchain, and cloud. A lot of the financial institutions are now using fintech, which with that AI capability can help streamline a lot of the internal processes. We have seen a lot of AI innovation in the fintech space that are empowering the financial institutions to transform their operation, to raise their ability to service their clients.”

There have been regular follow-ups by both organizations, as well as InvestHK. We are committed to deepen our collaboration in key financial services areas – asset and wealth management, fintech, digital assets, and family offices.

The Undersecretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Joseph Chan, the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC), InvestHK, and Cyberport led a delegation of over 30 Hong Kong and Mainland China business leaders to Doha on May 5-6.

Highlighting some of the key sectors of interest for investors from Hong Kong, Leung added, “The senior officials have been making our stance very clear in terms of our positioning as a major green finance and green tech hub. We would love to work with investors around the world to promote these movements. It could be new energy, new materials, or any of the technology layers that can promote a better tracking of the green behaviour. We see quite a lot of green fintechs using different technologies and access to different data.”

WadzPay, a fintech blockchain based technology for virtual asset payment solutions, has announced its entrance into the Stablecoin business. According to the press release, this will shift Wadzpay’s strategy from one of being a virtual asset payments company to a blockchain financial services solutions provider. The new solutions will be organized as a new business and new brand. To ensure regulatory compliance, WadzPay will set up a new entity and will pursue approvals in UAE, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

WadzPay recently was granted a license for crypto brokerage by Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority, pending finalizing some requirements.

The decision to venture into the Stablecoin market comes as a response to the increasing demand for secure, transparent, and efficient digital payment solutions worldwide. WadzPay will introduce two main products: Stable Coin as a Service and its own regulated USD$ Stablecoin, designed for local and international payments, cross border remittances, and settlements of on-chain transactions related to RWA.

According to recent market research by Bernstein, the global market for stablecoins is projected to grow from $125 billion to almost $3 trillion in next 5 years. This growth is fueled by factors such as the rise of decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, cross-border remittances, and the need for stable digital assets to mitigate volatility risks in cryptocurrency markets.

By leveraging blockchain technology, WadzPay aims to provide users with a reliable alternative to traditional fiat currencies, offering stability, convenience, and speed at lower cost in transactions for merchants, businesses and individuals worldwide. With a focus on compliance and regulations, WadzPay is poised to address the growing demand for stablecoins while ensuring security and regulatory compliance in its operations. Apart from the traditional use cases, WadzPay will add some new and innovative uses of stablecoins to the mix.

With this strategic move, WadzPay aims to innovate in solving foreign exchange problems and will introduce an innovative first-in-market business model, setting itself apart from competitors. WadzPay will build a world class team under the new leadership to drive this business.

Founder & Group CEO of WadzPay, Mr. Anish Jain, emphasized the strategic significance of this expansion, stating, “Our entry into the stablecoin business reflects our dedication to meeting the evolving needs of our customers and staying at the forefront of technological innovation. With the growing adoption of virtual assets, particularly stablecoins, we see tremendous potential for growth and are excited to offer our expertise in this space, while remaining committed to compliance and regulations.”

Leading the initiative is Mr. Jason Sarria-Solis as the President – Emerging & New Business in charge of the stablecoin business. With over 20 years of experience in the technology and fintech industry, Mr. Jason brings a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record of driving business growth and innovation. He has led multiple projects spanning from founding and scaling a successful telecom startup in the UK to leading digital banking, embedded finance, and blockchain projects in Asia.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Jason Sarria-Solis expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “I am thrilled to join WadzPay at such a pivotal moment in the company’s journey. The stablecoin market presents immense opportunities for disruption and advancement in the payments, remittance, and on-chain settlement space, and I look forward to leading our team in delivering innovative solutions that meet the needs of our users and drive the company’s growth.”

WadzPay remains committed to its mission of revolutionizing the virtual asset financial services landscape with blockchain technology, and the expansion into the stablecoin business marks a significant milestone in this journey. With a focus on technological excellence, customer satisfaction, and strategic partnerships, the company is poised to emerge as a key player in the financial services ecosystem.

Oman Investment Authority represented by ITHCA Group which invests in IT sectors such as cybersecurity, blockchain and data analytics has launched a $180 million technology fund, the Jasoor tech Fund, with Abu Dhabi’s ADQ an Abu Dhabi investment and holding company.

The Jasoor tech fund is focused on small to medium sized startups in sectors such as fintech, edtech, healthtech, cleantech, food agriculture and logistics.

This commitment is part of broader framework agreement signed between both parties in 2022.  The Fund aims to bolster the digital economy in the Sultanate as well as the wider MENA region by supporting high-growth technology companies. Its core focus will be on innovative technology companies established in the Sultanate, in addition to technology startups in other countries in the region. It will undertake investments high-growth technology companies at various stages of development that have established business models. 

In 2022, ADQ and OIA identified investment opportunities worth over USD 8 billion in key sectors of Oman’s economy. The partnership aims to contribute to increased economic cooperation and trade between both nations. ADQ has also made investments in blockchain startups.

His Excellency Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ADQ:stated, “Building on ADQ’s strategic partnership with OIA established in 2022, the launch of Jasoor Fund reinforces our commitment to make investments that unlock the potential of key sectors of the economy, while creating lasting value for stakeholders. Together, we will continue to advance trade and promote investments that will contribute to the growth of both economies.”

His Excellency Abdulsalam Al Murshidi, President of the Oman Investment Authority added, “The establishment of a technology-focused fund with ADQ marks a pivotal moment for Oman’s technology sector. Through this strategic partnership and the significant commitment by ADQ which underpins it, we are setting the stage for a new era of innovation and growth that will propel both nations into a future powered by digital transformation and technological advancement.”

Said Abdullah Al Mandhari, Chief Executive Officer of ITHCA Group also noted, “The establishment of the Jasoor Fund aligns with our venture capital investment strategy, focusing on funding contemporary, emerging and cutting-edge technological projects, while also providing Omani youth with opportunities to develop their ventures and expand globally.

In a linkedin post, Henk Jan Hoogendoorn, Chief of Financial Services Sector at Qatar Financial Centre Authority, noted that discussions were heating up with regards to the upcoming digital assets, takaful and Insurtech hackathon. He also mentioned discussions on the launch of a new wave of accelerator and incubator programs as well as a Fintech survey 2024.

He noted, “Qatar FinTech Hub on a roll. We discussed upcoming #hackathon with the focus on Digital Assets and takafel insurtech. As well as the launch of new wave of accelerator #incubator programs and Fintech survey 2024.”

Those present in the discussions included Qatar Development Bank and Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority Qatar Central Bank.

This is part and parcel of the efforts Qatar is making on both the Blockchain and digital assets front, especially after launching the digital assets lab earlier this year.

Among the themes being focused on in Qatar is tokenization of real estate, securities and other financial instruments.

Recently Bahrain Central Bank graduated the first fractional tokenization platform for Islamic Sukuk, called INABLR.

UAE based Dunes Fintech platform signed an MOU to acquire a portion of Be Mobile Africa which offers a banking and cryptocurrency infrastructure.

As per the announcement, the acquisition, slated for completion by the end of the second quarter of 2024, marks a significant milestone for Dunes, positioning the company as a trailblazer in the latest generation of Fintech companies.

Dunes is seeking to launch a platform, seamlessly integrating cryptocurrency and traditional banking services. This groundbreaking initiative signals Dunes’ unwavering commitment to redefining the digital banking landscape in the UAE and beyond.

As part of the agreement, Be Mobile Africa will sell significant technology assets, including key components related to its banking and cryptocurrency infrastructures. Notably, this includes the Be Network, a game-changing infrastructure facilitating real-time settlement of fiat and cryptocurrency transactions 24/7. Be Mobile Africa will retain banking services for the African continent, continuing with its focus on fostering financial inclusion initiatives across the continent.

“The strategic sale of non-financial assets injects vital financial resources into Be Mobile Africa. These resources will be used to double down on key African markets, in line with the company’s mission of banking the unbanked and underbanked in Africa.” emphasized Dr Cédric Jeannot, Co-founder and CEO of Be Mobile Africa.

A senior Dunes Financial executive expressed enthusiastic anticipation about the acquisitions, stating, “We are thrilled to embark on this journey of innovation and progress. The acquisition aligns with our vision of creating a bridge between crypto and fiat, opening up new possibilities for regulated entities and individuals. We are committed to providing a secure and compliant platform redefining how people interact with financial services.”

e& life, which leverages cutting edge technology to offer fintech, entertainment, retail and mobility services, the business pillar of e& that brings the next-generation digital world to the consumer’s fingertips, has joined theDubai FinTech Summit (DFS), organised by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global Financial Centre in the MEASA region. As a Powered By sponsor, e& life is dedicated to supporting innovative and future-thinking businesses on a global scale.

e& life fintech arm, e& money, has become a regional powerhouse, known for its user-friendly mobile financial services and its position as the UAE’s fastest-growing issuer of Mastercard debit cards.

Mohammad Alblooshi, Chief Executive Officer at DIFC Innovation Hub, said, “The path to true innovation lies in collaboration and the Dubai FinTech Summit strives to bring together global leaders, innovators and disruptive start-ups to shape the future of finance. The alliance between the summit and e& life demonstrates our mutual commitment to fostering a dynamic FinTech ecosystem to strengthen Dubai’s existing reputation as a leading business destination. Transforming challenges into opportunities, our goal is to create the most advanced, inclusive and technologically empowered financial community.”

Khalifa Al Shamsi, Chief Executive Officer at e& life, said, “The Middle East is at the forefront of a major transformation in financial services delivery, driven by technology shifting from traditional to innovative solutions. As a pioneer in the region’s flourishing FinTech sector, e& is driven by a bold vision to lead this change.

“Through strategic partnerships, we aim to fast-track progress and take the region’s FinTech potential to new heights. This partnership represents a valuable opportunity for both e& and its FinTech portfolio under the business pillar e& life to collectively imagine new possibilities, inspire breakthrough ideas, and catalyse impactful innovations. By bringing together the talent and resources within our ecosystems, we can accelerate the journey toward a future where financial services truly empower people across societies. We look forward to contributing our expertise to shaping discussions that will steer the direction of the industry and play a role in realising the UAE’s aspiration to become a global hub for financial innovation.”

In line with the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) to position Dubai as the top four global financial hub by 2033, the 2nd edition of the Dubai FinTech Summit is designed to encourage cross-border collaboration and innovation, pivotal to transforming the global FinTech sector. It presents a unique opportunity to explore emerging FinTech trends and their potential to drive financial progress in the MEASA region.

The Dubai FinTech Summit, scheduled for May 6-7, 2024, at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, will see an unprecedented gathering of over 8,000 decision-makers, over 300 thought leaders and over 200 exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge technologies.

Visitors can purchase tickets for the Dubai FinTech Summit 2024, with early bird prices ending soon.

UAE based Klickl International, a regulated open banking and virtual asset platform has announced that it has secured a full license from the Financial Services Permission (FSP) from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of the Abu Dhabi Global Market. This achievement highlights Klickl’s dedication to tackling challenges across the Web3.0 and virtual asset landscape by developing an integrated financial platform that harmoniously blends traditional finance (TradFi) with the expanding realm of cryptocurrency.

Being founded in Abu Dhabi, Klickl strategically harnesses the emirate’s progressive regulatory environment and dynamic economic backdrop. This strategic positioning enables Klickl to streamline processes, bridging the gap between traditional financial markets and the digital economy. Such an approach not only ensures smoother transitions and improved accessibility but also lays the groundwork for integrating the next one billion users into the Web3.0 ecosystem.

Klickl’s platform is uniquely designed to be destination-agnostic, operating under a decentralized global licensing scheme that empowers users across various jurisdictions. This innovative framework not only advances inclusivity in financial services but also makes a notable impact on the global virtual assets community, facilitating seamless exchanges across diverse financial domains.

Michael Zhao, CEO of Klickl, shared his vision: “Obtaining the FSP license from FSRA marks more than a regulatory milestone; it validates our vision to merge traditional finance and cryptocurrency seamlessly. Our deep-rooted presence in Abu Dhabi, a region renowned for its pioneering strides in financial innovation, has equipped us to pioneer solutions that anticipate and fulfill the diverse needs of today’s global investors.”

Zhao added, “We are grateful for the unwavering support of the Abu Dhabi Global Market and the FSRA. Their forward-thinking regulatory policies are indispensable in our quest to redefine financial infrastructure. As we move forward, Klickl is excited to continue breaking new ground, ensuring the digital economy is accessible, secure, and efficient for everyone.”

With this new licensing, Klickl is set to expand its operations, offering robust, secure, and compliant financial services that are designed to meet the needs of today’s dynamic financial landscape and tomorrow’s digital horizons.

Kikl had receive preliminary approval back in September 2022.

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.

IFTA (The International Trade and Forfaiting Association) and XDC Blockchain network will be holding a fintech workshop entitled “Use of Digital assets across Trade Origination and Distribution. The event will be held in Dubai UAE on February 22nd at Emirates Financial Towers.

As per the X feed, the workshop is tailored to IFT members, banks, credit insurers, fintech companies and law firms as well as policy makers, corporates, alternative lenders, family offices, asset managers, and logistics operators.

The topics covered will include MLETR policy developments, digital negotiable instruments, and real-time loan transactions and how tokenization and digital assets are revolutionizing the trade finance and lending practices.

Trade Finance has picked up interest not only from the UAE government but also the banking sector. In September 2023, UAE based Emirates NBD invested in Blockchain enabled Komgo, trade finance platform. As per the press release, the strategic equity investment was made by Emirates NBD’s Innovation Fund, the Bank’s corporate venture fund.  The fund created in early 2023, aims to strengthen synergies from strategic partnerships by combining the Bank’s digital ambitions and regional expertise with the agility and technological innovations of fintech companies.

In addition, Blockchain trade finance platform for banks in the UAE, UAE Trade Connect, an e&enterprise company has announced that it has surpassed $27 million in transactions identifying interbank duplicate financing and preventing fraud attempts.

In December 2023, UAE based InvoiceMate, a blockchain enabled invoice financing platform, tokenized a real world asset, an invoice, using the XDC blockchain in its recent pilot. The project used TradeFinex’S open source smart contract standards.

Earlier this year, Dubai’s virtual asset regulator (VARA) announced its plans for 2024 which will include enhancements to its regulatory infrastructure with introduction of real world use cases for tokenized fractionalized market participation using Blockchain as well as TradeFi, DeFi regulations while it has phased out its MVP licensing program

Finally and most importantly the UAE government is supporting tradeFi and the utilization of digital assets. At Davos in January, the UAE government signed an MOU with WEF (World Economic Forum) to support UAE’s new Blockchain and AI enabled Trade Tech initiative. The initiative is designed to accelerate the digitization of international supply chains, enhance customs procedures, and improve developing countries’ access to the global trading system and, as a result, spur a new era of trade growth.

So it seems that this workshop and definitely others to come, are opportune for learning more about the connections between Trade sector and digital assets.