Tookeez, a Moroccan Blockchain loyalty startup, has raised $1.5 million from Azur Innovation Fund, a public private seed capital fund in Morocco.

As per the press release, the startup plans to use the funds to expand into Morocco and the MENA region. The funds will also go into technical development for its blockchain technology system. The fintech startup is a universal system that aggregates loyalty points from a wide range of brands into a single wallet. This wallet enables transactions to be carried out across a wide network of shops and brands, making the platform a source of additional value and complementary income for the ecosystem.

Following this, tookeez plans to expand into other African countries by 2026 to reach 4 million active members by 2028.

Hicham Amadi, Wiam and Siham Emejjad founded tookeez with an aim of eliminating the challenges associated with loyalty point conversions and transforms the royalty program ecosystem. The biggest challenge is point accumulation which is usually slow, while redemption is also difficult.

Siham Elmejjad, CEO of tookeez, comments, “We are humbled by the trust of our investors. This fundraising marks a crucial step in our development. Our goal is to reach 4 million active members by 2028. To make tookeez a true ecosystem of economic and financial inclusion for our continent.”

tookeez collects loyalty points from multiple brands and stores them in a wallet, which users can then use to transact across a large network of stores and brands. Brands use tookeez to allow their customers to pay with accumulated points.

Azur Innovation Fund noted that it is proud to collaborate with tookeez, recognizing that the startup is redefining the customer loyalty ecosystem. “Our ambition is to support entrepreneurs who have a significant impact on the world, and tookeez embodies this vision perfectly,” Adnane Filali, President of Azur Innovation Fund, said.

The loyalty market in Africa and the Middle East is expected to reach $6.48 billion in 2024. Between 2019 to 2023, this market recorded a CAGR value of 12.1%. It is predicted that this market in the region will continue to grow at a CAGR of 9.7% between 2024-2028.

Moroccan BDO advisory has partnered with Naoris Consulting to integrate Naoris’s solutions including their blockchain based security protocol into their service offerings.

According to the announcement the integration is specifically designed to meet the unique challenges of the French-speaking African market.

The synergy between BDO Advisory and Naoris will make it possible to develop tailor-made digital transformation strategies, with a particular emphasis on cybersecurity. The objective is to use Naoris’ advanced technology to strengthen the resilience and competitiveness of African organizations and businesses, explains BDO Advisory.

On LinkedIn, Zakaria Fahim Managing Partner of BDO Morocco, stated, “We are excited to promote our strategic partnership for advancing decentralized cybersecurity using blockchain technology. This collaboration is key to providing innovative, secure solutions for Morocco and Africa.”

He added, “Our shared goal is to develop advanced cybersecurity systems leveraging blockchain’ s decentralization and transparency. This partnership will enable us to offer robust solutions tailored to the unique challenges faced by our enterprises in Africa and globally.”

Naoris Consulting on LinkedIN noted, “We are excited to share a pivotal chapter in our story. We’re embarking on a strategic partnership with BDO Morocco, a union of vision and expertise to revolutionize digital transformation with cybersecurity as a backbone in Francophone Africa. Envision a landscape where every organization in Francophone Africa is empowered to thrive digitally, bolstered by unyielding cybersecurity. This partnership is our stride towards turning that collective dream into a tangible reality, ensuring a safer and more innovative future for all.”

More and more Blockchain companies are moving to Morocco to serve the African region, including entities such as The Hashgraph Association, IR4Labs and others.

Chainalysis has completed its MENA section of its 2023 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report which will be out soon. In the report the MENA region is the 6th largest crypto economy of any region in 2023. There was an estimated $389.8 billion in on-chain value received between July 2022 and June 2023. This represents nearly 7.2% of global transaction volume during the period studied. However it is much lower that what was received in July 2021-July 2022.

MENA based crypto users had received $566 billion worth of cryptocurrency in one year from July 2021 to June 2022 which at that time was a 48 percent increase from 2020-2021.

MENA is also home to three of the top 30 countries in this year’s index: Turkey (12), Morocco (20), and Iran (28). However, Turkey dominates in terms of raw transaction volume, but interestingly Saudi Arabia comes in third in terms of crypto value received, with UAE coming in at number two and Turkey taking number one place.

Centralized exchanges and DeFi were the top services for receiving crypto value in the MENA region, with UAE receiving much higher share of crypto activity on DeFi protocols compared to other countries in MENA. In addition UAE crypto services were split almost equally between centralized exchanges and decentralized exchanges, while in KSA for example 48.6%went to centralized exchanges and 38.8% to decentralized exchanges.

According to the report no country has witnessed the growth of crypto transaction volume like Saudi Arabia has. KSA has witnessed year-over-year transaction volume growth of 12.0%. In fact, Saudi Arabia is one of only six countries to see any year-over-year transaction volume growth during the time period studied.

Chainalysis found that the crypto value received by the UAE was over US$34.9billion representing a decrease of 17% over the previous year. In Qatar there was a 26% decline, Oman 49% decline, Jordan 55% decline, and Lebanon 96% decline.

One of the most interesting findings was in the UAE where the majority of crypto transactions were for institutional investors. 67% of crypto transactions valued over $1 million were by institutional investors, while retail investors (up to $10,000) accounted for just 4.63%

“The fact that by far the larger portion of crypto investments in the UAE is for institutional and professional sized transactions, indicates an eagerness from organisations and high-net-worth individuals to add cryptocurrency to their investment portfolios. This market confidence is validation of the efforts being made by the country’s leadership to offer commendable regulatory clarity, and establish the nation as a global crypto hub,” said Kim Grauer, Director of Research at Chainalysis.

In the fourth annual Chainalysis Global crypto adoption index, identifying countries where the most people are putting the greatest share of their wealth into cryptocurrency, once again Morocco takes lead and is listed as one of the top 20 countries placing an Arab country on the map, while Turkey places the MENA region. The 2023 report states that global adoption is down, but not in one crucial subset of the world.

More specifically, there’s one crucial segment of countries where grassroots adoption has seen a much stronger recovery than anywhere else: Lower middle income (LMI) countries.

The full report will be out in October, but compared to 2022, the countries on the top 20 list are still almost the same.  In 2022 Turkey, Egypt and Morocco led not only in MENA  region but globally. All three countries were in the top thirty list of countries with most crypto savings, usage of crypto for remittance payments and permissive crypto regulations.

As for Sub Saharan Africa, the adoption of Bitcoin is the highest in the world with 9% growth rate. Nigeria was one of only six countries in the world whose transaction volume grew year-over-year. The use of homegrown Sub-Saharan Africa-based exchanges continues to outpace global exchanges.

Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce ( ABCC) in a recent visit presented Morocco’s customs entity with the features and benefits of Ellos Blockchain and aligned the next steps to use the platform.

ABCC developed Ellos Platform as a distributed digital ledger to enhance its supply chain documentation, effectively tracking all information regarding any product being sold across the Brazilian and Arab markets, including all commercial, banking, trade, and export transactions from end to end. Buyers will be able to access relevant product information upon scanning a QR code on its packaging, ensuring customer satisfaction and quality of goods. Within the blockchain, stakeholders will be able to review the involvement of manufacturers, transporters, point of sale (POS), and others through immutable data.

Using the highest technology, the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce developed Easy Trade, the Ellos Blockchain system responsible for sending the documents required by the Arab customs authority to clear the cargo in its country.

ABCC that was established back in 1952  aims to bring closer together Arabs and Brazilians through trade and business cooperation, keeps fulfilling its mission in new and innovative ways.

As a major supporter and driver of this relation, the ABCC has adapted and reinvented itself for these new times that call for more agility in trade, lower costs, unending partnerships, and more advanced, safer goods that are manufactured under principles of ethics and sustainability. A such according to its President, Osmar Chohfi , “We’ve established an important platform, Ellos, that uses blockchain technology for digitizing the trade process, thus reducing times and costs. Exports to Jordan have already seen the elimination of paper, and the same will soon happen in trade with Egypt and other Arab countries.”

ABCC has also established an innovation lab the ABCC Lab, taking Brazilian startups to the Midde East and North Africa. ABCC has also opened offices in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, and will soon launch one in Saudi Arabia.

Chohfi adds, “We’re carrying out together with the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (ApexBrasil), the Halal Brazil project that aims to make Brazilian food companies to supply to Muslim countries, bringing more profits and opportunities for our country, and providing the Islamic nations with the products they demand. Halal manufacturing means manufacturing with sustainability and quality standards.”

During Gitex Africa, held in Morocco from 31 May – 2 June 2023, IR4LAB, a Saudi-based company specialized in disruptive technologies such as Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence., announced that it would be expanding its operations into Africa. The announcement was made during Gitex Africa. 

The expansion is part of IR4LAB’s commitment to the African continent and their aim to spur innovation in deep technologies and implement use cases utilizing IR4LAB’s Blockchain solution, DocCerts as well as other solutions offered.

Mohamed El Kandri, CTO and Co-Founder of IR4LAB, who made the announcement at the event, stated, “We are happy to be expanding into the African market. We believe that Africa’s digital economy will grow and we want to be part of this growth in innovation and digitization, but also building local capabilities right from Morocco to Africa”.

According to Mckinsey & Company, Africa’ digital economy should top $712 billion by 2050 fostered by its youthful population, smartphone adoption, and internet penetration.

Majd AL AFIFI, CEO and Co-Founder of IR4LAB adds, “More and more blockchain entities are setting up base in Africa, but we are glad that IR4LAB will be the first from Saudi Arabia to do so with the support of our leadership”.

This was not their first participation in Africa. In March at the first World Maintenance Summit 2023, held between 11th-12th May at King Mohamed 6 University in Marrakech (Morocco), organized by Morocco’s largest group OCP and its subsidiary OCP MS, IR4LAB presented on the use of Blockchain in industrial maintenance in general and specifically in industrial inspection.

At the event El Kandri highlighted the role that Blockchain could play in maintenance 4.0 and the benefits of using Blockchain in industrial inspection, he has also provided real life examples from IR4LAB’s current projects.

Prior to this During Saudi’s leading tech event LEAP 2023, held between February 7th-9th in Riyadh KSA, IR4LAB and SGS (Saudi Ground Services), jointly announced the implementation of DocCerts Blockchain management solution for all training related digital documents and ground service equipment licenses issued by SGS at 28 Saudi Arabian airports where SGS provides ground services.

IR4LAB, also recently was accepted into the Ministry of Communications Information Technology tech champions accelerator program powered by Silicon Valley’s Plug and play. Plug and Play was an early investor in Google, PayPal, Dropbox, LendingClub, N26, Soundhound, Honey, Kustomer, and Guardant Health.

During the Qatar Economic Forum organized by Bloomberg, Ola Doudin, Co-Founder and CEO of UAE based BitOasis participated in a panel alongside Yat Siu, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Animoca Brands to discuss “Harnessing the Power of Blockchain”

Doudin uncovered during the panel that BitOasis would be the first regulated virtual asset platform in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). She stated, “We are working with regulators in KSA to be the first regulated platform in Saudi and other larger markets.”

She also mentioned that BitOasis is in discussions with regulators in Egypt and Morocco. She discussed how in both Egypt and Morocco, citizens are interested in access to tokenized dollars, better known as stablecoins especially in countries with high inflation rates and easy access to these stablecoins. According to her, this is a challenge to regulators and is something they will have to seriously look at.

This comes after BitOasis became the first crypto broker to receive an operational license from Dubai’s virtual asset regulator (VARA). BitOasis has also received preliminary approval for its license in Bahrain.

Interestingly Ola Doudin talked about the GCC’s growing interest in tokenization.

According to Doudin, “One of the biggest applications of interest in the Gulf region is tokenization because it can bring in new industries by tokenizing hard assets into liquid form through blockchain based tokens. We are seeing the Gulf region, KSA and UAE focusing on tokenized securities bringing more liquidity, more transparency from an investment standpoint in a regulated way.”

She adds that BitOasis is ready for tokenization of hard assets as it has already built a regulated infrastructure with the means to buy and sell tokenized assets and as such can support this movement.

She gives the example that in a recent BCG research it stated that in the next 10 years tokenization of assets will be worth $16 trillion.

The Arab country of Morocco has made it to the top 10 global list of countries who have a craze for Meme coins according to CoinGecko recent report.

For those who haven’t heard of Meme coins they are a crypto genre that has a huge online community which supports the crypto currencies growth.

They are sometimes identified with animated character or animal meme images. During the recent cryptocurrency boom, top currencies to gain meme coin status included Dogecoin and Shiba Inu.

According to CoinGeck, the meme coin craze in 2023 has been led by the United States (US), India and the United Kingdom (UK), where more than half of the meme coin fans this year are based. Meme coins are also popular in Southeast Asia’s Philippines and Malaysia, Nigeria and Morocco on the African continent, Oceania’s Australia and New Zealand, and Canada.

The top 10 countries leading the meme coin craze in 2023 make up 82.9% or the majority of interest in the speculative assets.

The US is unsurprisingly leading the meme coin craze, accounting for 23.6% of the interest in 2023 so far with over 2 million views of the top meme coin pages.  The most popular meme coin in the US this year is Shiba Inu, which generated 60.7% of US interest in meme coins. Recent trending crypto Pepe drove another 11.8% of meme coin interest in the US, followed by Bonk and Volt Inu.

People are by far most interested in Shiba Inu, which drove 46.7% of interest among the top meme coins in 2023. Baby Doge Coin generated 12.3% of meme coin interest, followed by more recent meme coins Pepe (9.4%), Floki (8.6%) and Bonk (8.2%).

In Morocco the most sought after meme coin is Dogecoin which generated 61.1% of Morocco’s interest in meme coins, but received only minor interest among the rest of the countries. DogeCoin currently has a market cap of over $10 billion.

The TRIPLE A January 2023 crypto ownership country report noted that the number of cryptocurrency users has increased since January 2022. In January 2023 there were 420 million crypto owners globally; this is up from their previous report in January 2022 where they had stated there were 300 million crypto owners globally. In the Arab world biggest growth was seen in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, and even Iraq. 

More interesting is that if we compare the percentage of crypto owners in the Arab world between January 2022 and January 2023 in some countries the increase is exponential.

For example in Jan 2022 2.38% of Moroccan population owned crypto, by January 2023 this number had increased to 4.9% an increase of more than 2% in one year. The same goes for Egypt, Tunisia, and Lebanon were the increase was also significant.

CountryJan 2022 Crypto Ownership %Jan 2023 crypto ownership %Crypto Ownership Population 2023
Morocco2.384.91,794,827
Saudi Arabia1.31.6592,351
Egypt1.7533,098,736
UAE1.54NANA
Jordan1.271.5170,649
Kuwait1.12NANA
Tunisia1.042.0241,098
Lebanon12.4185,704
Bahrain0.90.916,802
Qatar0.90.924,608
Oman0.9NA 
Iraq0.91.8700,935
PalestineNA2.3326,851
AlgeriaNA2.21,016,105
TurkeyNA5.54,626,523

In another recent CoinGecko report, Lebanon placed first in the rankings as the country most interested in AI crypto, scoring the highest of 100 for almost all the search terms, resulting in a total score of 1,200. The 21.6% share in AI crypto search interest suggests that the Lebanese crypto community is keen to trade on trends like the pumping prices of AI tokens. Other Arab countries curious about crypto AI included UAE, followed by Kuwait and Qatar.

One can also go back to Chainalysis report in October 2022, where Middle East & North Africa (MENA) was the fastest growing region. MENA-based users received $566 billion in cryptocurrency from July 2021 to June 2022, 48% more than they received the year prior. The top three countries at that time were Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey. This is once again mirrored in the stats showcased in this article. 

On December 20th, the Central Bank of Morocco represented by its governor Abdellatif Jouahri announced in Rabat Morocco that the draft crypto bill to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies is ready.

The announcement was carried out at the press briefing following BAM’s 4th and final quarterly meeting of 2022. Jouahri stressed that the full draft is ready to put in place a proper regulatory framework.

Jouahri stated, “Discussions are to be held with all stakeholders, including the Moroccan Capital Markets Authority (AMMC) and the Insurance and Social Security Supervisory Authority (ACAPS),” 

“We proceeded to a specific definition of the cryptocurrency and prepared a general public survey that details the specifics and use of this virtual currency in Morocco,” he added.

In June 2022, The Central Bank of Morocco, Bank Al Maghrib, announced during its second quarterly meeting that it would be introducing a cryptocurrency bill soon. Abdul Latif Al Jawhari, Governor of Central Bank of Morocco noted that the crypto CBDC committee created in February 2022 is putting in place an appropriate regulatory framework to combine innovation, tech and consumer protection.

He also noted that the crypto bill is being benchmarked against global experiences with IMF and World Bank. He also noted that this regulatory framework will also update the legislation on the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

In March 2022, during a session with media He revealed that the Central Bank of Morocco had created a council headed by him to oversee the required regulations for both cryptocurrencies and CBDCs. He stated, “We are in discussions with the Central Banks of friendly nations such as Switzerland, Sweden, and France as well as international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank to learn from their expertise and experience.”

Despite the fact that the Moroccan government considers crypto illegal in the country, Morocco has the highest number of crypto owners within the Arab region, followed closely by Egypt. 2.38 percent of Moroccan population own crypto.