Notabene, a crypto compliance firm that offers compliance solutions with FATF Travel Rule, has shown interest in Qatar’s proposed digital assets regulatory rules framework and has commented on Qatar’s consultation paper.

Notabene offers Safe Transact platform that helps financial institutions and crypto businesses unlock their full potential in the digital economy. With a focus on security, privacy, and end-user experience, Notabene customers use a multi-source data and software to automate real-time decision-making, perform counterparty sanctions screening, identify self-hosted wallets, and complete the smooth roll out of Travel Rule compliance, all in line with global and local regulations.

In a recent tweet on X Notabene welcomed the opportunity to comment on Qatar’s proposed digital assets regulatory rules consultation paper.

Notabene noted that they applaud the Qatar Financial Centre (“QFC”) Regulatory Authority (“Regulatory Authority”) and the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (“QFC Authority”) for taking the time to put together a comprehensive framework for digital assets.

Notabene added,” The process undertaken by both the QFC Regulatory Authority and QFC Authority to solicit public engagement on this important topic and welcome the opportunity to be part of the ongoing dialogue.”

Notabene, the crypto industry’s y pre-transaction authorization decision making platform, helps to identify and stop high-risk activity before it occurs. The platform offers a secure, holistic view of crypto transactions, enabling customers to automate real-time decision-making, perform counterparty sanctions screening, identify self-hosted wallets, conduct VASP Due Diligence, and complete the smooth rollout of Travel Rule compliance, in line with global regulations.

According to Notabene only Travel Rule compliance gives VASPs transaction-level counterparty and sanction insight, allowing them to recognize if their clients are sending transactions to sanctioned entities, wallets, or jurisdictions. VASPs worldwide are in different stages of compliance, which leaves many companies vulnerable to exposure to sanctioned individuals.

In its comment to Qatar’s consultation paper, Notabene states, “In particular, strict compliance with the Travel Rule is a prerequisite for VASPs to obtain licenses in these jurisdictions. We recommend that the QFC Regulatory Authority take the same approach. The ideal way to avoid dealing with non-compliance after settlement and its associated challenges is to ensure both TSPs assess and approve the
transaction before the Originator TSP executes it. This is in line with FATF’s recommendations.”

Qatar recently released its digital assets framework requesting feedback on it by January 2nd 2024.

Qatar based BRI ( Blockchain Research Institute) Middle East and Genesis Technologies have announced the deployment of a Blockchain data storage system to a client in the country.

As per the press release, BRI Middle East and Genesis Technologies will utilize blockchain for distributed database backup. The new system will improve data availability and reliability, reducing downtime and ensuring uninterrupted access to critical information.

The decentralized nature of the network also provides scalability, allowing organizations to seamlessly expand their storage capacity as their needs evolve.

Genesis Technologies developed the DDS system which is the foundation of the project. By utilizing blockchain technology, the solution provides an unmatched level of security and privacy for critical files.

“This project represents a major leap forward in data protection, offering our client unparalleled security, reliability, and peace of mind. By harnessing the power of blockchain, we have transformed the landscape of database backup, setting a new standard for the industry” said Aline Daoud, Managing Partner at BRI Middle East.

“Our mission with the DDS System is to revolutionize the way sensitive data is stored,” said Dr. Mazen El-Masri, CEO of Genesis Technologies. “In this digital age, security and availability are paramount. The DDS System leverages blockchain technology not just as a buzzword but as a concrete solution to real-world data storage challenges.”

On LinkedIn Mazen El Masri explained that this was the second project they deliver after their first one in KSA. He states, ” We are thrilled to announce the successful completion of Genesis Technologies second project! While our first project exceeded the expectations of a key ministry in Riyadh, this second project with a private Qatari Based company clearly highlights the value of blockchain technology in revolutionizing data storage while offering unparalleled security.”

Genesis Technologies was launched in Qatar back in September 2022.

The Qatar Central Bank( QCB)  sets to attract Big Tech and Fintech entities in the fields of Blockchain, AI, Tokenization, Digital assets and crypto to the country.

As per its third financial sector strategy launched by HE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohamed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al Thani, the Qatar Central Bank recommended enhancing financial inclusion, measures to facilitate building a world-class shared market infrastructure and establishing a financial technology talent center of excellence.

The third financial sector strategy is to make Qatar a leading ecosystem embracing emerging technologies to accelerate digital transformation supported by adaptable and consistent regulatory frameworks and trusted market infrastructure. The regulatory framework is one of the key initiatives and aims to develop framework for DLT ( Distributed Ledger Technology), Blockchain, Crypto and digital assets as well as Decentralized Finance (DeFi). The regulations will ensure a trusted, legal and economic environment for AML, IP rights, and KYC KYT.

Growth areas include payments ecosystem specifically retails, as well as introduction of solutions such as robo advisory, Blockchain, artificial intelligence, digital assets and tokenization.  It also includes digitization in Islamic Finance and ESG (Environmental Social Governance).

The strategy contains 48 actionable items with 20 high priority ones as per the strategy.

The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority and QFC Authority have jointly developed a QFC digital assets framework, as well as launched their digital assets lab which will work as a sandbox for incubating startups.

QCB governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saoud al-Thani. Stated,”We believe in the importance of digital finance ecosystem in supporting the development process. As a result, we have adopted this ecosystem as a third pillar within our strategy to lead the digital financial transformation for the sector to be pioneer in the adoption of modern technologies.”

IMF discussed its new draft methodology for the supervision of virtual assets during a recent fintech roundtable organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff, in collaboration with the UAE Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing. Interestingly the methodology project was financed by a number of countries including Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In attendance were participants from 15 countries including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the EO AMLCTF, stated, “The UAE continues to raise the effectiveness of its regulatory framework for VAs and VASPs to attract innovative firms and keep out illicit actors seeking to exploit the global financial system. We are delighted to partner with the IMF team to give supervisory authorities across the world the opportunity to strengthen international cooperation and be part of the design process of an important new methodology for VA/VASP supervision”.

Chady El Khoury, Deputy-Division Chief of the Financial Integrity Group within the Legal Department at the IMF, noted the broad consensus among participants on the need for urgent actions to mitigate the potentially significant ML/TF risks emerging from VA and VASPs.

He explained, “It is critically important that countries carry out robust AML/CFT risk-based supervision of VASPs, and that assessing the associated ML/TF risks is the starting point of an effective AML/CFT supervisory regime.”

Participants at the workshop identified a range of issues, including a lack of capacity and resources for supervisory agencies and data collection/analysis gaps. They agreed on the need for strong collaboration among AML/CFT supervisory agencies and upgrading existing ML/TF supervisory risk assessment models to accurately assess VA and VASPs.

In the absence of a clear solution to deal with data collection and related gaps, supervisors may need to rely on models that are more tuned into the inherent risks that VASPs pose with the decision on whether to incorporate data (e.g., transaction level analysis on VA flows) on a case-by-case basis. Finally, a more connected and active community for collaboration between AML/CFT VA and VASP supervisors would help countries to better understand and address cross-border ML/TF risks.

Over the coming months, IMF staff will follow up with participants and incorporate feedback on the methodology. Once finalised, the methodology will form part of the Legal Department of the IMF’s CD toolkit that the organisation will start providing to countries by mid-year 2025.

The methodology was developed under a project that is financed by a donor-supported Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland trust fund to finance CD in AML/CFT at the IMF with excellent support from the UAE to host the event.

Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran to start doing deals in Bitcoin, this is a statement made on X by no other than Max Keiser, the well-known Bitcoin influencer and the host of Keiser report, who is as well senior Bitcoin advisor to Nayib Bukele, the President of El Salvador.

As per Keiser’s statement, on X, “Russia, KSA, Iran will start doing deals in Bitcoin. Qatar knows this and is pulling the trigger on a huge BTC buy for their SWF (Sovereign Wealth Fund).”

This comes just days after Keiser stated that the Qatar sovereign Fund would be buying $500 billion of Bitcoin. Keiser had stated on X, “I have 1 word for you $100,000 Bitcoin God Candle fans. QATAR, the rumors are getting very loud on this. Their SWF (Sovereign Wealth Fund) rumored to looking to buy 1/2 trillion BTC (Bitcoin).”

Months prior to this Qatar was touted as discussing Bitcoin mining during the visit of HH Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar to El Salvador but nothing materialized on that front yet.

Keiser is a longtime Bitcoin advocate and educator, having advised people to buy Bitcoin since the price was $1.

With his statements Keiser seems to imply that the top GCC countries, Iran, and Russia plans to break away from the U.S. dollar and gravitate towards Bitcoin for trade.

Some would say that given that the Qatar Investment Authority founded in 2005 in October 2023, had an estimated $475 billion of assets under management would they use all that to buy Bitcoin? Qatar has not even legalized the trade of cryptocurrencies and neither has Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Russia.

In January 2023, Qatar Investment Authority CEO Mansoor Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud told Bloomberg that they would be interested in the credit space, and AI (Artificial Intelligence) as a theme of investments. In 2022 the CEO of Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund showed interest in investing in Blockchain but shunned crypto.

Could the strained relationships with the United States be pushing forward this movement towards de-dollarization in the form of utilization of Bitcoin?

Another interesting analysis could be that Qatar is actually interested in Bitcoin mining in El Salvador.  El Salvador was noted as entering a public private partnership worth $1billion to create the world’s largest Bitcoin mining farm. Volcano Energy has developed the first mining pool in El Salvador with Luxor Technology.

This according to Volcano Energy is a $1 billion Bitcoin mining project set to transform El Salvador through the development and operation of renewable energy plants. Could Qatar one of the most experienced and highly invested renewable energy country be interested in this project? Maybe just maybe yes!

UK QANplatform, the quantum-resistant Layer 1 blockchain, receives $15 million investment from Qatar investment company MBK Holding. In September 2023, MBK holding publicly expressed their support for QANplatform.

The QANplatform unveiled its private blockchain on September 12th 2023. The platform which is both quantum resistant and compatible with Ethereum’s EVM received support from Qatar ruling family member H.E. Sheikh Mansoor Bin Khalifa Al Thani.  In a privately held partner event prior to the public launch of QANplatform, H.E. Sheikh Mansoor Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Member of the Qatari Ruling Family, Chairman of MBK Holding, and former ICT Director for The Council of The Qatar Ruling Family Affairs stated, “We always evolve but not everyone leads the way. I’m proud to support the introduction of a cutting-edge deep tech project, such as QANplatform, in the Gulf region and on the global market.”

Today MBK holding has gone a step further and announced their $15 million investment in QANplatform days before the launch of its testnet.

MBK Holding, an investment holding company with its main office in Qatar and a subsidiary in the United Kingdom, focuses on investing in technology startups. The Founder and Chairman, H.E. Sheikh Mansoor Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, member of the Qatari ruling family, formerly served for a decade as the director of information technology for The Council of The Qatar Ruling Family Affairs.

In addition MBK Holding will offer growth services to facilitate global market access and expansion for QANplatform. MBK Holding’s focus extends to various regional markets, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and United Kingdom while also encompassing other global opportunities.

H.E. Sheikh Mansoor Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Founder and Chairman of MBK Holding commented, “MBK Holding proudly backs QANplatform, the game-changing quantum-resistant blockchain platform and nominates Johann Polecsak as the Director of Blockchain of MBK Holding. Blockchain technology in general, is still an untapped area with many opportunities and potential to transform entire value chains, sectors, and business processes. As a deep tech startup, QANplatform can lead the next wave of blockchain platforms with its remarkable features, including multi-language smart contracts and quantum-resistant security. QANplatform is a great fit for our portfolio and partner companies to discover and benefit from the potential of its technology.”

Johann Polecsak, Co-Founder and CTO of QANplatform added, “Working alongside MBK Holding and their team is truly an honor. QANplatform is driven by the vision of creating the safest and most user-friendly blockchain platform, enabling the development of numerous real-world robust applications that bring tangible value to various industries.”

MBK Holding recently signed a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia to support entrepreneurial growth and innovation in Saudi Arabia by developing growth services that seek to create market-leading investment opportunities.

QANplatform will be the first EVM-compatible, quantum-resistant Layer 1 hybrid blockchain platform where developers can code smart contract, DApp, DeFi, DAO, token, NFT, Metaverse, CBDC, tokenized asset, and robust Web3 solutions on top of the QAN blockchain platform in any programming language.

As a hybrid blockchain, QANplatform will have a private and public blockchain as well. In September 2023, QANplatform marked a new era of Web3 OS (Operating System) with the launch of the QAN Private Blockchain. QANplatform has unveiled the world’s first private blockchain that is both quantum-resistant (using NIST primary recommended post-quantum algorithm), and compatible with Ethereum’s EVM, while also enabling developers to code smart contracts in any programming language.

QANplatform’s ecosystem is building up with renowned companies such as Hacken, Beosin, or Alpine Esports. In February 2023, Alpine Esports, a Group Renault brand, and inter alia in the Formula 1® Esports Series signed QANplatform as its Official Blockchain Partner. In September 2023, QANplatform was selected to the Ernst & Young Startup Program as one of the nine selected promising startups in the technology and finance sectors, chosen from among hundreds of applicants globally.

This announcement comes as Qatar enters the blockchain era, with the launch of its digital assets lab, as well as partnerships with R3, Settlemint and others.

R3 Blockchain is establishing itself more in the GCC and MENA region, with Bryan D’Souza announcing his move to Abu Dhabi as Business Development and Partnerships Manager in the Middle East.

As D’Souza noted on Linkedin, “I’m delighted to finally announce my move to Abu Dhabi with R3, where I will lead Business Development and Partnerships in the Middle East. After extensive travel between London and the GCC, the prospect of making Abu Dhabi my home is thrilling as I embark on this exciting new chapter.

He adds that he is excited to collaborate with GCC’s thriving financial services ecosystem. According to D’Souza, the GCC stands out as a forward-thinking hub of progress due to its dynamic blend of tradition and innovation, as well as a remarkable ability to execute on transformation.

He will be working to flourish digital economies and align with national visions of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan, helping these countries to realize their financial sector developments including banking and capital markets transformation.

R3 will be working with Central banks, FMIs, commercial banks, FinTech, providing practical groundbreaking solutions for digital assets tokenization and regulated digital currencies, including CBDCs.

Last month Bryan D’Souza discussed his fruitful visit to Kuwait.

R3 has been a strong proponent in the Middle East and GCC region working with governments and enterprise on several projects, most prominently the CBDC projects in Saudi Arabia and UAE.

In addition the Qatar Financial Centre Authority and R3 signed an MOU to develop and grow Qatar’s fintech industry using technologies such as DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) back in April 2023.

D’Souza stated after his visit to Kuwait, “I am thrilled to have experienced my first trip to Kuwait over the last couple of days as part of a mini GCC tour. I am grateful for the warm welcome from our great partners and potential clients. The hospitality of the Kuwaiti people left a lasting impression; warm, friendly, and eager to collaborate.”

He added, “Exciting opportunities ahead and looking forward to returning back to Kuwait soon!”

Henk Jan Hoogendoorn has confirmed that Qatar Genesis Technologies, a Qatar University tech spinoff is working with Qatar Financial Center Authority on possible use cases in their digital assets labs.

Lebanese-Canadian national Mazen El Masri, Co-Founder and CEO of Genesis Technologies, the tech company which developed Maxya, is working with QFC digital assets labs on several blockchain use cases.

As per the post the possible use case could include tokenization, security tokes and fractional ownership.

On Sunday October 29th, Qatar announced one of the biggest digital assets initiatives in the country and the GCC region, the Qatar Innovation Dome for digital assets. As per the live event keynotes, the digital assets lab will develop tokenization platforms and ecosystems for everything that has value whether tangible assets or intangible assets including real estate assets, securities, Sukuk, bonds and others in the future utilizing DLT ( distributed ledger technologies), blockchain, and smart contracts.

Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA) signed MOUs with Blockchain solution provider R3 and Blockchain SettleMint platform. The agreement with Settlemint will also as with R3 work on Blockchain and digital asset initiatives in the financial sector in the digital assets lab.

Taurus SA, a FINMA-regulated Swiss institutional-grade digital asset infrastructure provider, has expanded its operations into the Middle East to serve its growing client base in the region. Taurus will service the GCC and MENA region, including KSA, Qatar and even Turkey through its Dubai UAE office.

Founded in 2018Taurus SA, a Swiss company provides enterprise-grade digital asset infrastructure to issue, custody and trade any digital assets: cryptocurrencies, tokenized assets, NFTs and digital currencies.

Managing Director, Bashir Kazour, leads Taurus’ new UAE office based in the DIFC in Dubai. M. Kazour brings more than 20 years of retail, capital markets and technology experience gained at Royal Bank of Canada, Standard Chartered and FIS, a leading banking and payment technology provider. Over the last decade, he collaborated closely with a diverse client base ranging from sovereign wealth funds and central banks to brokers and family offices.

“I am excited to lead Taurus’ efforts and build a winning franchise in the Middle East, a region known for its rapid adoption of blockchain technology and digital assets,” said Kazour. “Taurus is well-known for its unique custody and tokenization capabilities serving banking clients and large enterprises, which aligns perfectly with the needs of the region. We’ve already started interacting closely with regulators, central banks and clients and I’m looking forward to delivering cutting-edge and compliant solutions to the market.”

Speaking to LaraontheBlock on whether Taurus requires regulation by VARA, Bashir Kazour, Managing Director at Taurus SA explained, “Taurus does not need a regularity license in the UAE as we solely focus on providing the digital asset infrastructure to our clients in the region. To make it simple, Taurus is a technology provider, equipping banks and corporates, with a platform to manage any digital asset. The financial services activity is regulated by the Swiss FINMA and is not promoted outside of Switzerland.”

Taurus opened an office in DIFC Dubai because the company has already signed up some large financial institutions according to Kazour. He adds, “We are also in late stage discussions with several other financial and non-financial institutions in the Middle East region. The region is known for its rapid adoption of blockchain technology and digital assets driven by the regulatory clarity already provided through VARA, ADGM, RAK DAO initiatives, fostering innovation.”

As such Kazour reaffirms that the opening of the office in the UAE is to support this growing demand in the region for both custodial and tokenization solutions.

The office according to Kazour will serve the full Middle East region, including Qatar, KSA but also Turkey. He adds, “ We also have plans to expand to other countries as well.”

Taurus has already consolidated its European leadership position as the preferred digital asset infrastructure provider for banks and corporates, building on its Swiss market leadership with more than 60% market share. Among others, Taurus has recently announced a partnership with Deutsche Bank as well as CACEIS, one of the largest global custodians. Taurus also closed its $65 million Series B funding round last February with strategic investors including Arab Bank Switzerland, Credit Suisse, and Pictet.

The Qatar Research, Development, and Innovation (QRDI) Council’s flagship program, Qatar Open Innovation (QOI), announced the launch of Open Innovation Opportunities in partnership with the Ministry of Labour (MoL) in Qatar to develop certificate attestation process for the Ministry of Labour using technologies such as Blockchain and AI.

Director of Planning, Quality, and innovation, at the Ministry of Labour, Dr. Noura Ghanem Al Hajeri said, “Launching these initiatives in partnership with QRDI Council signifies our commitment to modernize Qatar’s labour sector. The opportunities, for Certification Attestation Process – Optimization through Blockchain Technology and Artificial Intelligence Driven Document Analysis for Qatar’s Ministry of Labour, aim to enhance the efficiency of labor policies and regulations. They will streamline processes, reduce manual labour reliance, and ensure compliance with Qatari law and cybersecurity standards, ultimately enhancing efficiency and advancing the levels of excellence and innovative effectiveness in Qatar’s labor sector.”

The first challenge, titled “Certification Attestation Process – Optimization through Blockchain Technology,” aims to address various issues associated with the current manual certification verification process, such as workforce requirements, extended processing times, semi-automated university and government systems, high costs, intricate procedures, susceptibility to errors, degree forgery, and unauthorized verification.

Director of Research, Development, and Innovation Programs at the QRDI Council Nada Al Olaqi added, “Our collaboration with the Ministry of Labour in Qatar marks a pivotal moment in innovation and technology. QRDI Council, through the Qatar Open Innovation Program, aims to foster partnerships between government entities and local and international technology-based companies, to achieve more excellence, development and innovation in the government sector.

“These partnerships will empower government entities to serve as test beds for piloting innovative technologies, effectively addressing various critical challenges they face.” “Involving government entities in our initiatives is crucial for establishing a robust and vibrant national innovation system in Qatar, aligning with the efforts to build a sustainable society and a knowledge-based economy, a pivotal objective outlined in the National Vision 2030.”

The second challenge, titled “Artificial Intelligence Driven Document Analysis for Qatar’s Ministry of Labour,” focuses on improving the efficiency of the Ministry of Labour’s operations. Manual document analysis has been time-consuming, labour-intensive, and error prone. By adopting AI-driven solutions, MoL aims to modernize its processes, reduce manual labour, and enhance efficiency, with a primary focus on contract analysis in the Arabic language. The proposal submission deadline for both opportunities, as highlighted by Qatar Open Innovation Program, is November 30, 2023.

This comes after Qatar recently launched its digital assets Innovation dome.