In an interesting move towards including digital assets into the wealth management value chain, DIFC Innovation Hub, global Swiss wealth management Julius Baer and Euroclear a financial infrastructure market firm, have come together to explore how family offices and HNWI ( High Net Worth Individuals) can best use technology to expand their digital asset portfolios as well as apply multi generation inheritance.

As per a press release, DIFC’s Innovation Hub experts will work closely with Julius Baer’s global innovation team and Euroclear’s innovation Centre of excellence for a three-month sprint that will result in a white paper detailing a future-oriented solution for succession planning relating tokenization applied to multi-generational inheritance. The analysis and subsequent findings will serve as a blueprint for other geographies looking to turn similar challenges into opportunities. 

It is estimated that AED 3.67trn (USD 1trn) in assets will be transferred to the next generation in the Middle East over the coming decade. However, only 24 per cent of High-Net-Worth Individuals have a full estate plan in place. Fast adoption of various digital asset classes by individuals and businesses also poses potential complexities to a seamless execution of estate plans currently in place. The DIFC Innovation Hub, Julius Baer and Euroclear collaboration will help bring tangible solutions to this global challenge.

Mohammad Alblooshi, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Innovation Hub, commented, “The region is witnessing a trend of generational wealth being deployed across a variety of digital asset classes to diversify and future-proof their portfolios. By bringing together global leading entities across wealth management, financial services providers, tech disruptors and regulators, this newly launched innovation project will help transform one of the largest, underserved markets in the region and open doors to a more inclusive and tech enabled future for family businesses and the wealth management industry.”

Alireza Valizadeh, CEO, Julius Baer (Middle East) Ltd, added, “Generational wealth transfer is gaining momentum in the UAE, and we, as Julius Baer, are in a unique position to advise our clients having had our origins as a family business. On the occasion of Julius Baer’s 20-year anniversary in Dubai, I am hoping that this innovation project will showcase how we can work together to stay relevant to our future clients and provide a vision highlighting the evolution of the private banking industry especially with the onset of digital assets.”

Philippe Laurensy, Head of Group Strategy, Product Management and Innovation at Euroclear, noted, “As a trusted financial market infrastructure we have a strong commitment to collaborate with the market providing innovative solutions to our clients. We are extremely pleased to be working with DIFC Innovation Hub and Julius Baer on what we see as a transformative journey to address market gaps and create efficiencies by harnessing the power of tokenization. By validating and unlocking the benefits of smart contracts we have the potential to redefine the narrative of wealth management, creating solutions that could span generations.”

The DIFC Innovation Hub has been attracting as well more and more Blockchain, digital assets, Web3 companies from around the globe and locally.

Bahrain based The Family Office, the leading wealth manager in the GCC, has launched its new Fintech Lab at its headquarters in Bahrain, covering cutting edge technologies including AI, Blockchain, Machine Learning and more.

It will unveil state-of-the-art digital products and services, solidifying its position as a trusted partner in wealth management.

The Fintech Lab is a dedicated space where experts, emerging talents, and visionaries collaborate to develop and implement groundbreaking solutions.

The lab will catalyze the creation of cutting-edge digital products that empower investors to make informed financial decisions with ease and convenience. It will serve as a hub for collaboration with industry-leading experts, harnessing the full potential of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and machine learning.

The lab was inaugurated in the presence of Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB).

“We have consistently pushed the limits of excellence in wealth management. The new Fintech Lab is a significant milestone in our ongoing mission to provide investors with innovative solutions and advance their overall financial journey,” said Abdulmohsin Al Omran, Founder and CEO at The Family Office.

Swiss private Bank Julius Baer in a recent Bloomberg article announced that it will be expanding its crypto wealth management services in Dubai UAE. This will be the first digital assets service offering outside of Swtizerland by the bank.

As per the article, Julius Baer’s subsidiary JBME will apply for a digital assets license variation on top of its existing permissions in the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DIFC). This would allow the entity to arrange and provide advice and custodial services on digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.

This is not surprising given that in Julius Baer’s recent global wealth and Lifestyle report, it published that Dubai had risen to the seventh position demonstrating its remarkable success a a destination for the wealthy.

The city has emerged as the preferred choice for companies and entrepreneurs seeking a foothold in the Middle East and is highly favoured by expatriates. By providing an attractive tax framework, investment incentives, superior living standards, robust safety measures, excellent global connectivity, and top-notch infrastructure, Dubai is poised to maintain its position among the top cities in these rankings.

In addition in 2023, Julius Baer participated in the Dubai Fintech Summit, where Jonathan Hayes Head of Digital assets development at Julias Baer spoke on the bank’s digital asset strategy.

In its 2023 strategy report Julius Baer noted that in its strategic cycle 2023-2025 the bank would focus on scaling its business in key markets through organize and inorganiz growth as well an innovate wealth management through digital advancements.

In their stategy report the bank notes, “Over the next strategic cycle 2023-2025, Julius Baer forsaw an additional investment into technology of about CHF 400 million in total, on top of today’s investment budget, to be achieved incrementally and largely capitalised. Further to current investments in its alternative assets offering, such as private markets and real estate, the Group will explore the emerging, albeit volatile, class of digital assets, keeping a close eye on how it evolves and the opportunities it presents. Integrating digital assets into its holistic wealth management proposition will position Julius Baer firmly at the interface of digital assets and the fiat world. The Group is well-prepared to successfully navigate both its clients and its business through the disruptions decentralised finance will inevitably pose.”

This comes as the UAE and Dubai become a destination of choice for global crypto exchanges seeking licenses. Dubai earlier this year launched the first virtual asset regulatory authority in the world, and has witnessed the creation of a digital assets framework on a federal level through its Security and Commodities Authority.

DIFC has also been working heavily on its digital assets framework. In April 2023, The Dubai Financial Services Authority, the regulator of Dubai International Financial Centre,noted that it has a strong pipeline of digital asset companies and global hedge funds that are looking to set up in the emirate’s financial centre. The DFSA has yet to issue a licence in the cryptocurrency space and it may take longer for companies looking to set up a new business than for those already licensed by the regulator.

In a recent article published by Arabian Gulf Business Insight, Nexo Co-Founder and MD Antoni Trenchev announced that the UK entity would be opening its offices in the UAE as it expands into the MENA region.

The MENA region will grow to account for 30 percent of its total global operations. NEXO as per the article which currently has 5 million users across 200 jurisdictions will set up under Dubai’s VARA regulations as well as DIFC.

As per comments made by Trenchev 150 people will be recruited. In the article he states, “We are seeking two lines of regulation,” Trenchev said. “One is for the crypto-related activities which will be at VARA, while DIFC will be for more traditional offerings associated with wealth management.

“There appears to be a political will to create a blockchain fintech financial hub in the region but more specifically Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which is always welcoming,” he said.

“In the Middle East the rules are being developed as we go, but there is the clear desire to have the business here, whereas in the US, when you deal with the various agencies and you assess their moves, you’re not really sure whether they want to have any crypto there apart from maybe Bitcoin,” he adds.

Born in the USA and raised in Beirut Lebanon until she was a teenager, Nadine Chakar, a US national of Lebanese origin, later attended university in the US. Her parent are both doctors yet Nadine is a well renowned financial and technology executive and is recognized as one of the most powerful women in finance. She has been a vocal champion for using tech to revolutionize financial services. 

Nadine Chakar will be joining Securrency, a leading developer of institutional-grade, blockchain-based financial and regulatory technology, as Chief Executive Officer effective January 9th, 2023.

Ms. Chakar brings over 30 years of experience in global wealth and asset management to Securrency. Most recently, she served as Executive Vice President and Head of State Street Digital, where she built and led the team that is helping State Street, institutional investors, and regulators successfully navigate the bank’s transition into a modern digital economy. Ms. Chakar also led State Street Global Markets, where she oversaw its trading, product, and operations platform, helping to drive successful client solutions. Prior to State Street, she served as global head of operations for Manulife’s Global Wealth and Asset Management Division and led the Global Asset Servicing teams for BNY Mellon.

In addition to her leadership at State Street Digital, Ms. Chakar has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Securrency since 2021. Her appointment as the CEO of Securrency highlights the growing importance of compliance aware tokenization, interoperability, and institutional DeFi to the future of global finance.

Ms. Chakar’s appointment will allow Dan Doney, Securrency’s founder, who has served as the company’s CEO and lead architect since its inception, to focus on innovation, technology delivery, and commercialization by continuing to serve as the Chief Technology Officer of Securrency. Mr. Doney is recognized as one of the preeminent thought leaders in the blockchain and decentralized finance space. This focus will accelerate the growth of Securrency’s blockchain-enabled financial services infrastructure market share.

Nadine Chakar, incoming CEO of Securrency stated,  “The financial services industry is at a critical tipping point as it tokenizes regulated real-world assets and automates legacy financial processes using the power of blockchain technology. The Securrency team has done a remarkable job of developing the most robust technology on the market. As the new CEO, my priority is to accelerate the commercialization of what is in essence the digital asset intelligence and interoperability foundation for major financial institutions and the global ecosystem. Dan Doney is a true visionary and innovator in the industry, and I look forward to working closely with him and the team to create the global digital assets marketplaces of the future.”

Jonathan Steinberg, CEO of WisdomTree, said: “The future of finance relies on regulation-forward and compliance-driven digital development and Nadine has long been a driver of this evolution. Working with Nadine as a client and industry leader, I have witnessed not only her tremendous expertise in the integration of RegTech and digital assets, but her steadfast belief that Securrency’s technology will pave the way for institutional DeFi. I congratulate Nadine, Dan, and the entire Securrency team on this bold move for the company.”

It is noteworthy that Securrency Capital, a blockchain-enabled brokerage that empowers global financial access received a license to operate in ADGM Abu Dhabi UAE in 2022. Securrency Capital is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Securrency, Inc., a US-based global financial markets infrastructure technology company. Securrency Capital is a full-service regulated institutional DeFi brokerage firm that offers both traditional and digital financial services to retail and institutional clients via a single, accessible marketplace.