UAE based IOTA ecosystem, DLT Foundation, has committed $10 million investment fund to support early-stage startups and ventures in the UAE and Africa. The funding will focus on TradeTech, TradeFinance, and tokenization solutions.

It aims to bolster a digital tradetech ecosystem in the UAE, Africa, and around the globe by advancing the roll-out of digital trade and finance solutions. The initiative builds on a recent collaboration agreement for the establishment of the TLIP organization, announced at WTO MC13.

The first investments will be shared publicly over the coming weeks and will include newly founded tradetech ventures and dedicated startup accelerator programs for startups building on IOTA.

This announcement follows the official signing of the collaboration agreement for the Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP) at the WTO MC13 event. TLIP is a public global trade infrastructure initially developed by the IOTA Foundation and TradeMark Africa. The TLIP Consortium will be founded jointly by the World Economic Forum, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Trademark Africa, the Institute of Export and International Trade, and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation. Together they will advance TLIP by developing a neutral governance framework and establishing TLIP as a global, public goods infrastructure for trade.

With its investment of $10 million, IOTA supports a flourishing tradetech ecosystem that advances trade digitization, and, in doing so, makes trade finance more accessible for all. The funds are earmarked for early-stage startups, accelerator programs, and pilot programs that will drive the development of digital trade infrastructure.

Dominik Schiener, Co-Founder of IOTA and Chairman of the IOTA Foundation, emphasized the strategic importance of this initiative: “By investing in the future of TradeTech, we are not just facilitating smoother trade transactions; we are laying the groundwork for a more interconnected and efficient global trade ecosystem. Our collaboration with leading organizations through the TLIP is a testament to our commitment to innovation and excellence in this field.”

This initiative will be kickstarted with the launch of a public grants program over the coming weeks, followed by an accelerator program for startups in the UAE before summer and in Africa before the end of the year. These programs are designed to empower entrepreneurs and innovators who are building new trade solutions on the IOTA and TLIP infrastructure, offering them the resources and support needed to bring their visions to life.

Saudi Arabian based Blockchain enabled Insuretech platform TakaDAO has won 2nd place at Meet the Drapers Season 6, winning $500K in funding.

Sharene Lee, Co-Founder of TakaDao stated on LinkedIn, “ We’re thrilled to announce that Takadao has secured 2nd place on Meet the Drapers Season 6 and clinched a whopping $500k in funding! It’s a testament to the hard work, dedication, and ingenuity of our incredible team. We couldn’t have done it without the unwavering support of our amazing Takatribe and the relentless efforts of every member of our team. Your belief in us has been our driving force, and we’re profoundly grateful for each and every one of you.”

Meet the Drapers, is a global entrepreneur show, where startups can pitch their ideas and win funding. Tim Draper is the host of the show. In its Season 6 it carried out a show in Saudi Arabia.

This is not the first funding received by TakaDAO. The company received a strategic investment from Cardano accelerator Adaverse in January 2024.

Adaverse focuses on scaling Web3 solutions. This came at the heels of Adaverse’s expansion into Saudi Arabia with the opening of an office in Riyadh. Adaverse is now the first venture capital fund in the KSA to specialize in Web3 and blockchain early-stage investing. In 2024, the company plans on investing $10 million in local Saudi Web3 startups.

Furthermore in October 2023 Takadao, raised $1.6 million in pre seed round led by Draper Associates. Other investors include BIM, Core Vision ventures, Prince Sultan Bin Fahad bin Salman Al Saud.

In a recent X post by HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, he noted that the UAE government will be accelerating the adoption of technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Blockchain into the global trading system.

The Initiative called Regulation 5.0 for the Future of TradeTech and the Trade-Sustain-AI Initiative will identify key trends in trade technology and provide a blueprint for a harmonized global regulatory system to oversee their deployment.

According to Al Zeyoudi this is especially important for developing countries to avoid widening the technology gap.

Al Zeyoudi stated on X platform, “At the inaugural TradeTech Global Forum today, we launched two important initiatives that will accelerate the adoption of technologies like AI and Blockchain into the global trading system: Regulation 5.0 for the Future of TradeTech and the Trade-Sustain-AI Initiative.

He added, “Our Trade-Sustain-AI initiative will create global partnerships to oversee the development of AI-powered trade solutions that will advance sustainable practices throughout supply chains – and help promote a smarter, cleaner trading system.

The comments were made during the Abu Dhabi World Trade Organization Conference being held in Abu Dhabi between Feb 26th and 29th. The conference had metioned that decentralization of global supply chains would be on the table for the first time.

The conference witnessed that attendance of 165 nations and trading blocs. WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala noted in an interview with WAM, “We will initiate new dialogues, called deliberative sessions, where, for the first time, the ministers will engage on issues crucial to the contemporary world, including trade and environment, trade and climate change, trade and sustainability, and trade and inclusion.”

She advocated the decentralization of supply chains, expanding them to developing countries.

Moreover during the conference, Blockchain Foundation, IOTA announced its partnership with the World Economic Forum, Trademark Africa, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the Institute of Export and International Trade, and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.

As per their press release, “Together, we are embarking on a transformative journey to revolutionize international trade through the creation of the Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP). International trade has long been burdened by inefficiencies, bureaucracy, and lack of transparency. The cumbersome process of trading goods across borders involving numerous documents, multiple actors, and intricate regulations often leads to delays, errors, and even fraudulent activities. Recognizing the urgent need for a reliable and transparent digital trade infrastructure, our coalition is committed to fostering a neutral governance framework for TLIP.”

TLIP aims to streamline information exchange and promote collaboration across borders. It builds on IOTA’s distributed ledger technology (DLT) to provide data immutability and security. It performs the same function as a government stamp on a trade certificate to prove authenticity – just made digital.

Customs in destination markets will not need a stamped physical Certificate of Origin when using TLIP. However, while physical documents are subject to fraudulent risks, the TLIP system ensures transparency and immutability of the relevant details of uploaded documents.

TLIP ensures that a digital certificate is authentic and prevents it from being tampered with. IOTA also provides distributed controls, so each trade actor can manage their data and give access permission without outsourcing the permission controls to a centralized entity enabling a digital-based collaboration much like how the free market of trade works manually today.

Furthermore, using IOTA’s DLT enables parties to interact securely online without requiring a centralized platform that stores all information and is vulnerable to hacking or manipulation.

The Dubai based entity of WadzPay, WPME Technology, which specializes in blockchain based technology for virtual assets has been granted a Virtual Assets Service Provider (VASP) Licence for Virtual Asset Broker-Dealer service activities, better known as crypto broker license, by Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA).

The crypto broker licence remains non-operational until the company fully satisfies all remaining conditions and select localisation requirements defined by VARA, following which it will be able to commence operations, subject to regulatory reverification and approval.

As per the press release, WadzPay is excited to deliver its innovative and industry-leading solutions to customers across Middle East while working closely with regulators in contributing to build a compliant and robust fintech ecosystem.

Mr. Anish Jain, Founder & CEO, WadzPay stated “This licence showcases WadzPay’s dedication in promoting innovation in the field of virtual assets domain and blockchain technology bringing us a step closer to delivering world class solutions to businesses in Middle East.”

WadzPay aims to revolutionise the way people in the Middle East transact and manage virtual assets. WadzPay’s commitment to compliance ensures that financial institutions and their customers can confidently embrace the benefits of blockchain technology while adhering to regulatory standards, ultimately contributing to the growth and sustainability of the fintech ecosystem in the Middle East.

Mr. Ram Chari, Board Member and Group Director, WadzPay quoted “This will further solidify WadzPay’s position as a trusted and reliable blockchain technology based financial service provider in the region. With the broker-dealer services, WadzPay will provide the technology to its clients to enhance the experience of their customers by enabling virtual assets transactions in a seamless and secure manner. “

To which Mr. Khaled Moharem, President – MENA & Europe at WadzPay, emphasised, “This cements our hard work and sets the stage for transformative blockchain solutions, promoting compliance and customer confidence in the Virtual Assets Industry.”

WadzPay received its initial approval for a license back in October 2023.

In 2022, KSA based Geidea, a leading fintech company in Saudi Arabia and Blockchain based payments solutions, WadzPay Middle East Technology forged a new strategic partnership to power the transformation of pilgrimage payments.

WadzPay had been strivign to obtain a Blockchain settlement and payment license from VARA in Dubai, yet this will need further framework and direction from the Central Bank of UAE.

The UAE is set to witness the launch of a large scale real estate blockchain tokenization project called Desert Pearl. Dubai based tokenization consultancy company, DDX, which is involved in both real estate and gold tokenization projects announced Desert Pearl.

As per their website, “This amazing blockchain tokenization project will be the first large scale tokenization project.” The project vision is to create an eco-tourist attraction that combines Dubai’s history and heritage with the natural beauty of the desert.

The DDX Global team and its partners will build a desert resort city with hotels, apartments, shops, entertainment and business venues. Current plans are to build 1000 hotel rooms, 1200 apartments, a shopping mall and conference center, alongside an amazing pearl shaped building for tourism and entertainment (40 storeys high), as well as a Museum and Heritage center.

The project will be tokenized using Blockchain technology. Land tokens will be collaboratively minted by DDX Launchpad partners. DDX Global and its partners will carry out the development over the next 5 years.

Chris Santilhano, Chief Operating Officer of DDX Global  stated, “Our aim as a tokenization consultancy is to leverage blockchain technology for tokenizing real-world assets, we are committed to creating exceptional value for our investors. In addition to the opportunity for long-term value, our strategic approach of digitizing real estate assets will help strengthen liquidity and enhanced international investment in Dubai’s property sector. Our goal is to create a blue-print for responsible real estate tokenization. The integration and interaction of different tokens and their use cases contribute to the DDX Global ecosystem. We are bridging two core markets – the luxury property sector in Dubai with the growth in fintech enterprises driven by Web3 innovation.”

Designed by Zhuzh, a Dubai-based international luxury, bespoke architectural design company, Desert Pearl will feature two luxury hotels, luxury apartments, a high-end commercial cluster and a luxury retail precinct in addition to a boulevard and private marina. The luxury boutique hotel with 88 keys will also house an arena, an Arabic astronomy museum, planetarium, Concord’s Gallery, and hanging gardens.

The first residential building in Desert Pearl is the Qamar Residences, featuring the Pearl Collection of homes at 400 square meters, the Oasis Collection at 650 square meters and the Sky Penthouse, a triplex, will be a record breaking 5,000 square metres. All the items in the apartments will be customized. All these assets can be tokenized, delivering more value for investors. More details of the project will be announced shortly.

‘Desert Pearl’ resort in Dubai will combine sustainability and high-end tokenization.

Saudi Arabia based Muqassa, a subsidiary of Saudi’s Tadawul Group, specialized in settlement of trades, signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Swiss Blockchain enabled Instimatch, a cash management platform for institutions across industries and geographies to interconnect.

The MOU will work to launch a repo trading platform to enhance the financial structure of the Saudi Capital Market.

A repo is a repurchase agreement, which is defined as short-term lending mechanism that involves a bank selling securities, usually government bonds or other debt instruments with steady values, to an investor and then buying them back a short time after at a slightly higher price.

Muqassa works to reduce post-trade risk by introducing new mechanisms to guarantee the settlement of trades.

The signing was held during Saudi Capital Market Forum (SCMF), held in Riyadh between 19 and 20 February.

Under the MoU, Muqassa will conduct central clearing for all repo transactions on the new platform. Instimatch which leverages blockchain technology, working with Blockchain platforms such as R3 and AlGorand, will be responsible for continually enhancing the trading platform in collaboration with Muqassa, ensuring its adaptation to the evolving requirements of its users.

The MoU will also allow both parties to cooperate in order to introduce new products and services in the Saudi capital market. This will support the efforts exerted for the development and diversification of the market, which come in the context of Vision 2030.

Instimatch’s mission is to establish a global network of trust, enabling counterparties across the globe to conduct money market trades transparently and frictionless. This will facilitate the global flow of liquidity between counterparties, leading to a more efficient, stable and diversified money market system

In 2021, Instimatch Global, and Algorand, blockchain powering secure and efficient frictionless exchange, partnered to disrupt the regulated payment networks with advanced solutions powered by blockchain. Prior to that in 2020, Instimatch had partnered with R3 and also opened up its regional MENA office in Qatar.

Fastex, a crypto exchange, payments gateway and ecommerce platform, has set up an office in Dubai World Trade Center, as it seeks a license from Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority (VARA). Fastex has already received initial approval from VARA.

As per the press release, Fastex chose the office because of its proximity to VARA. As stated, “This proximity enhances Fastex’s ability to work closely with the authority and expedite the licensing process as a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP). In addition to the office opening, Fastex has received initial approval from VARA to conduct Broker-Dealer and Exchange operations, highlighting its commitment to regulatory compliance.”

Vardan Khachatryan, the Chief Legal Officer and Member of the Board of Directors at Fastex, stated, “Opening our new Dubai World Trade Center office is a noteworthy step in Fastex’s growth strategy. This move underscores our commitment to adhering to industry standards and maintaining high-quality service in the digital asset field. Being located in the DWTC, close to VARA and other key industry participants, positions us well to offer reliable and regulated services to our clients.”

Fastex will be participating at the AIBC Summit in Dubai UAE. They announced on X platform that they were nominated for best exchange of the year award.

This comes as DKK Partners FZE, subsidiary of DKK Partners a fintech company also announced that it has been granted an initial approval by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) for crypto brokerage dealer services.

So far more than 11 crypto exchanges have received licenses in UAE.

DKK Partners FZE, subsidiary of DKK Partners a fintech company, has announced that it has been granted an initial approval by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) for crypto brokerage dealer services.

DKK Partners FZE will continue to work towards acquiring a full Virtual Asset Service Provider crypto broker license from VARA.

The VARA initial approval allows DKK FZE to move forward in the licensing process as they look to offer corporate and institutional customers in Dubai and the UAE access to stablecoin blockchain technology, utilizing USDT and USDC.

Khalid Talukder, Co-Founder and CEO of DKK Partners, stated, “It is an incredibly exciting time for DKK in the Middle East and securing the VARA Initial approval will enable us to continue making a splash in the region. Our expansion to Dubai last year was a huge success and we’re looking to extend our influence in the market by strengthening our compliance and innovation in the Virtual Asset space. This license is a game-changer for DKK and the digital asset landscape in Dubai empowering businesses to confidently engage in blockchain technology, benefiting from the stability of stablecoins and the regulatory framework.”

Victoria Albergini, Head of Partnerships for DKK Partners FZE in Dubai added, “Since our launch last year, DKK Dubai has gone from strength to strength and is now in a prime position in the rapidly evolving digital asset landscape. The VARA initial approval enhances our ability to serve the unique needs of corporate and institutional customers.”

UAE organically incubated, digital assets custodian, Tungsten, regulated under the FSRA (Financial Services Regulatory Authority) in ADGM is on a hiring spree.

Tungsten, according to Further Ventures, UAE Venture Capital firm, and its incubator, is a 100% UAE sovereign digital asset custodian that offers secure and regulated custody service.  It is also backed by an Abu Dhabi Sovereign Wealth fund.

As per Tungsten, “ We are on a mission to create the most advanced digital assets custody and treasury services for our clients, helping them to become self-sovereign organizations with strong mechanisms for access control, multi-tier and multi-factor authentication, no single points of failure, and advanced transactional risk management.”

Tungsten goes on to note, “Our offering will be insured by global underwriters, regulated exclusively by ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Markets), and host its core services in a Tier IV data center with 24/7 physical security.”

Tungsten is custodian of virtual assets that protects client funds from geo-political, regulatory, and cloud risk by operating a fully private physical and application infrastructure out of the most secure facilities in the world.

The website states that Tungsten goes beyond custody, their integrations span exchanges, liquidity providers, analytics, tokenization, and more, providing a holistic solution.

The company is founded by Christian Desjardins, Co-Founder and CEO , as well as Jose J. Perez Aguinaga as the Co-Founder and CTO.

Tungsten is currently hiring an assistant Manager-Deputy MLRO.

In the advert for the position it states that Tungsten, backed by an Abu Dhabi Sovereign Wealth Fund has expansion plans across the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The job advert notes, “We aim to redefine the landscape of secure, user-friendly virtual asset custody solutions. Our commitment is to unparalleled security, reliability, and ease of use, positioning Tungsten as the preferred choice for institutions managing their virtual assets.”

Tungsten is looking for Assistant Manager – Deputy MLRO, to support the Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) in implementing and managing their anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) framework.

This comes as more and more Blockchain and digital asset entities launch from ADGM in UAE.

This article was updated on Feb 27th 2024. Update concerned founding members.

In a recent statement on the X platform ( formerly Twitter), The CEO of BackPack, UAE regulated crypto exchange, announced that the crypto exchange had expanded to reach 11 US states, including California, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Wyoming and others.

CEO Armani Ferrante outlined plans to consolidate the exchange’s presence in the US, saying, “Today, we beginning our journey to bring Backpack Exchange into the USA. It’ll be slow. It’ll be steady. It’ll be hard. But it’ll be worth it. If we don’t support your state yet, hold on. We’ll get there. This is something that will take years to complete. But we’re committed to doing it right.”

The exchange, currently in its beta phase, facilitates spot trading activities and intends to diversify into derivatives, margin trading, and more as it secures additional licenses globally.

Backpack was co-founded by Can Sun, former general counsel at FTX, and Ferrante, previously and a software developer at Alameda Research.

The Backpack Exchange platform boasts multiple licenses across global jurisdictions, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lithuania, Australia, and the United States.

In October 2023, BackPack Web3 non-custodial XNFT wallet and exchange received a full license by Dubai Virtual asset regulatory authority allowing it to run a regulated crypto exchange in UAE. Backpack, which was considered one of top 30 best crypto wallets in 2023, was developed by Coral. It offers XNFTs built on Solana Blockchain.

Backpack Exchange is set to launch in private beta for its community members in November before going live to the public in Q1 2024.

UAE based Trek Labs Ltd FZE, will launch under the name Backpack Exchange. This license only covers Backpack Exchange and not any of the other virtual asset products and services offered by Backpack.