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.

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.

Present at the launch was His Excellency Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al-Thani, Governor, Qatar Central Bank, and His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Qassim Al-Abdullah Al-Thani, Minister of Commerce and Industry.

Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saud Al-Thani, The Governor and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Qatar Central Bank noted in his speech, “ It is my pleasure to be at the launch of the Digital Assets Lab where as a country we are working to discover new tools to increase, enhance our competencies and capabilities in the digital sector. We have achieved strides in digital technology through a number of initiatives chief among them is electronic KYC ( Know your Customers) ad are working to develop and establish an ecosystem for startups and new companies to enhance the role of KYC.”

He added, “We are encouraging entrepreneurship as part and parcel of new financial technology strategy with local, regional and international customers with initiatives such as blockchain and digital assets. These are steps in the direction with initial modules for digital assets, modern databases, and increased internet speed as such as welcome collaboration for the sustainable development of the state of Qatar.”

Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida Board Member and Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Financial Centre in his speech offered a detailed explanation on the technology relevant to this lab, the benefits, pillars and the coding system and tokenization process. He explained, “The digital assets projects leans on three Qatar National strategies, the Qatar National Vision 2030, the Qatar Financial Center strategy and the fintech strategy of the state of Qatar, which aims to make the country a financial commercial hub 2030.”

He explained, “Tokenization is the process of creating tokens that represent tangible and intangible assets using DLT. The tokens could represent tangible assets such as real-estate or intangible assets such as securities. We will also work on fractionalization of assets, and will allow property to be part of those tokenized assets democratizing the process of investment.”

He added, “Smart contract, which are self-implementing contracts built on cryptographic programming systems, will allow the transfer of property, in distributed format.”

He discussed how DLT is an innovative technology that registers transactions, and can be expanded to include investment opportunities. As per Al Jaida, in the first phase tokenization will verify property, second will entail economy of tokens, third will entail development of smart contracts and the application which will manage these digitized tokens after which they will be offered on secondary markets.

As per the objectives of the digital assets lab, it will reinforce innovation and research as well as the establishment of DLT enabled startups, and companies, helping participants transform their ideas into tangible reality. Al Jaida states, “Participants in the digital assets lab will have three to six months to test their ideas, where they will have to meet feasibility requirements, benefits towards fintech ecosystem in Qatar before they graduate.”

The Digital asset lab will offer technology support, operational support, where startups and companies can cooperate with experts, regulators, test their use cases and register their businesses and receive licenses, offering the support from pilot to company formation allowing them to operate in Qatar’s fintech ecosystem.

Al Jaida announced that one of the first use cases to be explored within the digital assets lab will be tokenized carbon assets. He goes on to state, “Secondly will be tokenizing private company shares to facilitate trading and management of these shares, as well as transforming Sukuk bonds into digital assets in addition to tokenized real estate to facilitate the buying and selling of real estate assets.”

He called for continuous suggestions on what else can be tokenized moving forward as well as input into the regulations for digital asset ecosystem.

He then announced the name of the lab, which is the “QFC Innovation Dome”

Michael G. Ryan, the Chief Executive Officer at Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority, believes that the digital asset economy has a transformative nature and cooperation will be essential because as promising as it is, it also faces challenges.

He believes that with the equilibrium between innovation and regulatory oversight, confidence and trust will prevail among investors and firms. This is why the digital assets framework that QFCR has developed requires the engagement of all participants. He called for feedback on the digital assets public consultation paper announced in early October 2023, which will be open until January 2nd 2024, as these feedback will play a strong role in their policy decisions.

One of the Blockchain entities participating in QFC Innovation dome is R3. Bryan D’Souza Strategic Alliances & Partner Ecosystem Lead for EMEA at R3 stated in a comment made on the live LinkedIn event, “R3 is proud to be partnering with the QFC for this exciting Digital Assets Lab initiative.” Settlemint Blockchain is also one of the participants.

Prior to this The Qatar, Ministry of Finance, signed an agreement  with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to establish a “Centre of Excellence for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” in Qatar that will help to foster an environment for research and development in technologies that include AI ( artificial intelligence), blockchain, IoT (Internet of Things), renewable energy and others.

The UAE’s Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which is autonomously regulated, has proposed a new securities digital asset law in a new consultation paper.

The new Law of Security and related amendments to select existing legislation will cater to the requirements of the DIFC’s proposed digital assets regime to other DIFC laws. The proposed legislative enactments, and amendments to existing legislation, aim to ensure DIFC Laws keep pace with the rapid developments in international trade and financial markets arising from technological developments, and to provide legal certainty for investors in, and users of, digital Assets.

Jacques Visser, Chief Legal Officer at DIFC, commented: “DIFC is excited to announce a proposed new Digital Assets Law and new Law of Security regime. DIFC has been working closely with experts in the field of digital assets and banking and finance to create a groundbreaking Digital Assets Law, and in doing so proposes a significantly enhanced and updated Law of Security regime. The proposed Digital Assets Law sets out the legal characteristics of a digital asset, its proprietary nature, how it may be controlled, transferred, and dealt with by interested parties. The proposed new Law of Security is modeled on the UNCITRAL Model on Secured Transactions and has been adapted to take account of specific factors relating to DIFC. We believe these proposals will put DIFC’s legal and regulatory framework at the forefront of international best practice.”

The UNCITRAL Model Law on Secured Transactions (the “Model Law”) deals with security interests in all types of tangible and intangible movable property, such as goods, receivables, bank accounts, negotiable instruments, negotiable documents, non-intermediated securities and intellectual property with few exceptions, such as intermediated securities.

In the press release DIFC states, that digital Assets, such as cryptocurrencies, NFTs, stablecoins and security tokens, represent a trillion-dollar asset class and the scope for future innovation and market opportunities within it are considerable. Thus far the primary focus in many jurisdictions has been to regulate and impose enforcement related sanctions on some of the practical applications of this asset class from a regulated financial services perspective.

However, the fundamental benefits brought about by blockchain technology, the digital assets that can be created thereby, and their application across a wide spectrum of use cases will grow and become of increasing importance in a much wider context.

In this regard, the broader legal questions as to the exact nature of the legal features and impact of digital assets remains open for debate on several key issues. International legal developments and judgments across the common law world have begun to provide some clarity in this regard but has, to date, not yet provided a comprehensive legal framework mapping out the full extent of the legal characteristics of a digital asset and how users and investors within this asset class may interact with digital assets and each other.

Following extensive review of the legal approaches taken to digital assets in multiple jurisdictions, DIFC is now publishing for public consultation its own Digital Assets Law proposal to provide such a comprehensive framework in DIFC. In addition, the legislative proposal also proposes changes to other cornerstone DIFC laws, including the Contract Law, the Insolvency Law, the Law of Obligations, the Trust Law, and the Foundations Law to cater to the requirements of digital assets in the larger legal framework of the DIFC.

Similarly, a great deal of innovation has taken place in secured transactions regimes internationally – particularly since the current Law of Security was enacted in 2005. This includes the emergence of businesses and platforms that enable the extension of credit in, and secured or covered by, digital asset collateral arrangements, and an increasing drive to digitize international trade.

Following consideration of regimes in other jurisdictions and particularly UNCITRAL’s Model Law on Secured Transaction, in conjunction with the proposed new Digital Assets Law, DIFC proposes to repeal the current Law of Security, and to significantly amend and enhance DIFC’s securities regime. This will align the regime with international best practice and provide clarity in relation to taking security over digital assets. In doing so, the DIFC also proposes to repeal the current Financial Collateral Regulations and amalgamate the financial collateral provisions into a new chapter of the proposed new Law of Security.

The proposed legislative changes contained in Consultation Papers No. 4 and No. 5 of 2023 have been posted for an extended 40-day public consultation period with the deadline for providing comments ending on 5 November 2023. The Consultation Papers are available on the DIFC Legal Database.

The proposed amendments reflect the Centre’s commitment to maintaining a transparent and robust legal and regulatory framework aligned with global best practice.

UK based  BeZero Carbon has partners  with UAE Blockchain security token platform for carbon credits ACX (formerly known as AirCarbon Exchange) to host its carbon credit ratings on ACX’s Abu Dhabi exchange – bringing transparent carbon ratings to a new audience in the Gulf States.

The ACX Abu Dhabi exchange is the world’s first fully regulated carbon trading exchange built on blockchain. All users of this exchange will now be able to access BeZero’s Carbon’s ratings for carbon offset projects in real time, allowing them to make informed decisions about carbon credit quality before investment.

This new partnership expands on an existing partnership between BeZero and ACX, which saw BeZero’s ratings hosted on other ACX platforms across the world.

BeZero’s risk-based ratings are essential to scale investment in the Voluntary Carbon Market, providing market participants with the information they need to make informed decisions about carbon credit investments.

Tommy Ricketts, CEO and Co-founder of BeZero Carbon stated, “We are pleased to extend our partnership with ACX and bring our expert assessment of carbon credit quality to a new audience in the Gulf. The Voluntary Carbon Market is a critical tool for climate action, and companies need access to risk analytics to help them make informed decisions about how to invest in high quality credits. By offering our carbon ratings on the exchange, we hope to scale investment in the VCM and support the allocation of vital capital towards high quality projects to enable the Net Zero transition.”

William Pazos, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of ACX, added, “Transparency is integral to scaling the Voluntary Carbon Market. We are proud to be building upon our existing partnership with BeZero Carbon to offer their carbon ratings to participants on our Abu Dhabi exchange. The risk-based ratings they provide will help our members better understand their carbon credit investments, and we are pleased to continue our partnership with a knowledgeable business committed to upholding integrity in this rapidly scaling market.”

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.

Bahrain Central Bank has announced the issuance of regulation for security tokens as amendments to its current crypto asset module.

The Central Bank has expanded the crypto asset regulations to include digital token offerings, in specific those with the characteristics of security tokens.

In determining whether a digital token qualifies as a security, the CBB will examine the underlying economic purpose of the digital token, its structure, characteristics, as well as the rights attached to the digital token.

The new amendments also outline new requirements to enhance safeguarding clients’ assets to provide high levels of protection for investors.

In addition the Central Bank of Bahrain will allow crypto-assets licensees (after obtaining the CBB’s approval) to engage in additional activities, which are not within the stipulated regulated crypto-asset services.

 Commenting on the new amendments, Director of the Capital Markets Supervision Directorate – Mrs. Abeer Al Saad, stated,  “We at the CBB are delighted to issue the new amendments to our regulatory framework for crypto-assets and to specifically introduce new regulatory requirements for the digital tokens offerings, in order to regulate the crypto-assets market in a fair and transparent manner. Therefore, the CBB has adopted a risk-based regulatory approach towards requirements, which are proportionate and commensurate to the regulated activity undertaken by a licensee. We endeavour to provide adequate safeguards to investors without inhibiting innovation adoption at the CBB, as we continue to monitor market trends and review the regulatory framework to keep up with the latest developments in the field, as well as maintain the competitiveness of the sector. This milestone is a reflection of the pioneering role the CBB continues to play in regulating crypto-assets.”

Bahrain was the first country in the GCC region to regulate crypto allowing for the launch of crypto exchange brokers such as RAIN, CoinMENA, and most recently Binance. It is also one of the leading GCC and MENA countries when it comes to crypto payments.

The new amendments are also a first in the region, no other country has regulated security tokens onshore yet!

UAE Mubadala Investment Company PJSC (Mubadala) has acquired a majority stake in Abu Dhabi based blockchain enabled AirCarbon Exchange (ACX), the global exchange revolutionizing the voluntary carbon market. ACX is building the first fully regulated carbon trading exchange and carbon clearing house in Abu Dhabi. This comes after Mubadala Capital led a Series B funding round of $70 million for Ramp Network, whose mission is to make Web3 a reality by enabling mainstream adoption of products and services offered by pioneering blockchain ventures.

Mubadala did not disclose the value and size of the deal, but according to earlier reports, the sovereign fund was looking to acquire at least a 20% stake.

ACX is a global environmental commodities exchange that uses distributed ledger technology within a traditional commodity trading construct. It leverages blockchain architecture to create securitized carbon credits. This framework allows corporates to trade and finance carbon credits like conventional financial assets, increasing participation and investment in global carbon reduction and offset programs.

H.E. Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), stated, “The UAE continues to be a leader in leveraging the path to a lower carbon economy to safeguard the environment, drive down emissions and create lasting economic opportunities. The investment by Mubadala in ACX is a great testament to the commitment toward climate action, which will enable investors and businesses to voluntarily purchase verified emissions reductions in the form of carbon credits within the progressive ecosystem of ADGM. ADGM is committed to playing a leading role in facilitating the transition to a lower carbon economy by stimulating sustainable finance flows of investments.”

Commenting on this transaction, Badr Al Olama, Executive Director of UAE Clusters at Mubadala Investment Company, added, “AirCarbon Exchange is set to be an important player within the international sustainable finance ecosystem, supporting the growth of environmental commodities, especially in light of the on-going impact of climate change globally. This transaction will strengthen the UAE’s competitiveness on the world stage, while driving forward a future-focused sector that is vital to the UAE’s decarbonization journey.”

William Pazos, Managing Director & Co-Founder of ACX said, “Carbon markets are growing at breakneck speed, making innovation key to maintaining relevance. Mubadala and the broader Abu Dhabi government have the impetus to take a leading role in scaling carbon markets. We are honored to form a partnership with them and look forward to the exciting years ahead.”

ADGM is the first jurisdiction globally to regulate carbon credits and offsets as spot commodities supported by the introduction of environmental instruments as financial instruments, and to license carbon exchanges and clearing houses that operate both spot and derivatives markets.

Alex Tapscott, author of Digital Asset Revolution and co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute, hails Web3 and blockchain start-up, PermianChain for bringing the digital asset revolution to the natural resource sectors.

Chapter 7 is dedicated to how blockchain creates value through natural asset tokens (NATs), mainly in oil and natural gas. Mohamed El-Masri, Founder and CEO of PermianChain and CEO of Brox Equity, explains the mechanics behind energy tokenization within a blockchain-enabled ecosystem. 

El-Masri discusses how utilization of blockchain is changing the way exploration and production companies raise capital as well as how investors and consumers participate in a digital energy market with surplus or shortage. 

PermianChain’s solution is a digital platform combining a blockchain, decentralized cloud storage and Web3 compatible features that supports two forms of digital economics, one being a security token and the other being a utility token. Chapter 7 of Digital Asset Revolution also delves into how PermianChain introduces a digital midstream solution to powering bitcoin mining rigs through oil and gas operators. 

Tapscott states, “This is the kind of fresh thinking that this industry needs!”

Back in April 2020, reduced consumer demand caused oil futures to fall into negative territory, oil firms had to pay entities to take oil off their hands as temporary storage was exhausted. Additionally, increased political pressure and lack of commercial viability in some areas has caused natural gas assets and resources to be stranded or wasted (i.e., flared or vented), in both situations taking away economic benefit from communities while the latter is causing harm to the environment. On the flip side, current global energy demand is outstripping supply, causing marginal oil and gas fields to become commercially viable. Unfortunately, the lack of incentive for oil and gas firms to invest in stranded [or distressed] energy assets did not allow regional and global energy markets to make better use of such wasted resources, until now.    

“These challenges, while daunting, are the exact type that we can mitigate by using blockchain technology and proof of work infrastructure. We provide the gateway for the oil and gas sector to enter the world of DeFi, bitcoin and crypto markets by making contingent sources commercially recoverable. Making PermianChain the meta-grid for a digital energy economy, says El-Masri. 

PermianChain’s native token, the digital energy currency (DEC) and the first compliant natural asset security token (NAST), the BROX Token issued by Brox Equity, are live within the PermianChain ecosystem. 

For the first time ever, PermianChain will be showcasing an exclusive demo of its digital energy market and natural resources tokenization platform on the 9th of November 2022 at the Web3 & Blockchain World (W3B) in Toronto, Canada, co-hosted by the Blockchain Research Institute (BRI), a global independent blockchain think-tank, and MCI Group, the world’s largest engagement agency.

UAE based La Boulangerie, a French bakery whose goal is to bring quality standards that will revolutionize the food delivery industry, is raising capital for its venture through Blockchain enabled P2P Security token investment platform STOKR.

STOKR based in Luxumborg, is regulated under EU MiFID II law. The issuance of securities is governed by EU regulations and is available in a number of European countries. Both individuals and legal entities can invest on STOKR.

Investors with just 100 USD can invest in La Boulangerie, as the token price is 1 USD, but a minimum investment of 100 USD is required. Investors can invest using Euro, USDT (ERC20), Bitcoin USDT liquid and other cryptocurrencies.

As per Stokr website, the bakery will initially set up shop in the city of Dubai in the UAE but plans to expand across the UAE and GCC region. The food and beverage market in the UAE, particularly in Dubai, is already sizable with more than 11,000 businesses. Prominent established players dominate the bakery industry with more than 200 bakery-cafes in Dubai.

Utilizing Liquid blockchain allows for a direct link between ventures and investors, which mean investors, own the securities directly through the Security token, and verification is done over the blockchain.

In an AMA session, Adam Schneider, CEO of Le Boulangerie states, ”We ‘re focusing on quality which is something they do not, they compete mostly on prices and even with the prices that currently see here in Dubai and the UAE, there is a margin high enough for us to make quality while still matching their pricing.” Adam is an avid bitcoiner who has been in the space for past 12 years.

Arnab Naskar, the Co-founder of STOKR in an interview stated, “We want to provide people with direct ownership of assets when it comes to the stock market in the form of security tokens. Happily we are seeing interest from countries like Egypt, who have a young generation and these guys will be getting deep into the blockchain and crypto assets much more over the upcoming period. So we are quite also happy to support those audiences.”

He adds in the interview, “We have a very interesting bakery, French bakery in Dubai, which is raising money on STOKR. It is an interesting business, a mom and pop show. They may not become a unicorn, but they will definitely be a zebra in their own market. These kinds of products can  provide an interesting return for STOKR platform investors. So I see there is also a trend for this kind of alternative investment market to really grow in the coming years.”

La Boulangerie has raised over $261,000 from nine investors so far. Their security token  is listed under the ticker “BAKER.” La Boulangerie is currently focusing on setting up their production center in Dubai. The production center should be ready by October 2022. The STO offering is still open as they seek to raise 2.5 million USD.

On a side note, I wrote this piece and highlighted this story, as I think it will be interesting to see when the UAE itself will announce the regulation of security token offerings. In my opinion, this would bring in more alternative investments into the startup and Small and Medium Sized businesses in the UAE and GCC region.

In an interview with CNBC Al Arabia, Yazeed Saleh Aldemaigi Deputy, Strategy & International Affairs, at Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced that regulations for Security Token offerings (STO) will be out before the end of 2022 in Saudi Arabia.

As per the interview, application for STO offerings will be available on the CMA digital platform by end of 2022. He added that the Fintech Lab at CMA has been working on finding the most appropriate environments for FinTech startups.

The STO regulations that will come out at the end of 2022 will help to attract foreign investment firms interested in the FinTech domain in KSA as well as support local companies.

The Fintech Lab from CMA was launched in 2017.  It aimed to provide a regulatory framework that is conducive for the innovation of Financial Technology (FinTech) in the capital market within the Kingdom.

One of the business models under the Fintech Lab was related to use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to arrange the Offering of Securities and Custody Services. It is a platform that uses Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to arrange the offering of securities (Sukuk as a preliminary stage) to investors, in coordination with the Issuer and the Authorized Person (AP) assigned by the Issuer as an Offering Advisor.