Up close and personal with MEAPT's most prominent players in the ecosystem. Today we invite Ola Doudin, Co-Founder and CEO of MENA's Cryptocurrency Exchange platform BitOasis
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3 questions, 1 player, and endless insight. Welcome to the "FireSide 2022" content series where we reflect on trends, industries, investments, and venture capital in the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, and Turkey. For today's FireSide chat, we invite one of the most-backed FinTechs in 2021 and MENA's leading Crypto Exchange platform BitOasis:
Considered as early movers into the Cryptocurrency space, what have been some of the most exciting aspects of your journey, and on the contrary, what are some of the core challenges you're facing (whether on the regulatory side, market perception side, funding side, or any other challenges you'd like to highlight)?
It’s been an exciting journey right from 2015 to this day. Last year alone was packed with milestones for BitOasis. We announced partnerships with key government organizations including the Dubai Police and the National Committee for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organisations (NAMLCFTC), with an aim to make crypto safe for investors in the UAE. On the business side of things, we closed $30 Million in our Series B funding, and launched a transformative zero-fee local bank funding and withdrawal facility. We are constantly working on expanding our regional presence, rolling out new launches like listing more tokens on our platform and adding new features to enhance user experience.
We are focused on hypergrowth as a fast-scaling company in the crypto and Fintech space. And challenges are par for the course. The regulatory landscape is still evolving across the region and globally, and that’s a huge variable. With crypto being a very young industry, it can also be challenging to find the right talent to build an A-team. There’s also a knowledge gap in the market where so many people don’t understand what crypto is. Our aim is to build awareness around this exciting new asset class and demystify crypto for the masses.
Can you share with us some of the most important lessons you've learned raising your $30M Series B, and what could be one piece of advice you'd give to anyone (entrepreneur/corporate/investor/enthusiast) wishing to enter the world of Crypto in the MENA region?
In an industry like crypto, which moves at an incredible pace, you need to be proactive, learn quickly and adapt to new developments. Even before a regulatory structure was in place, BitOasis meticulously self-regulated to ensure the platform was at par with some of the best crypto-asset exchange platforms in the world. This played a big role in regulators recognizing us as an established and trustworthy entity. We’ve also adapted to evolving regulatory frameworks to ensure that we continue to grow while staying compliant and providing the highest level of consumer protection.
With crypto awareness reaching the masses, and an ever-growing number of people realizing the long-term growth potential of cryptocurrencies, crypto is well and truly having its moment. At BitOasis, we’ve recorded upwards of USD 3 billion in trading volume to date, out of which nearly USD 1.5 billion was recorded in the first half of 2021 alone. It is an exciting time to be part of the growing and thriving crypto ecosystem in the region.
After a 50% dip in funding over 2020, the FinTech ecosystem across Emerging Venture Markets recorded an exceptional 550% YoY growth in funding, crossing the $2Bn mark in 2021. As recorded in our newly released 2022 FinTech Venture Investment Report, the UAE remains a hub for FinTech in MENA. UAE-based FinTech startups raised almost 50% of all capital deployed in the sector across the region, where 1 out of every 3 FinTech deals in MENA was closed by a startup in the UAE.
What could be 1 prediction for the world of Cryptocurrency in the MENA region in specific and the global stage in general?
Cryptocurrency adoption in the Middle East is higher than it’s ever been. We’ve seen user signups soar on the BitOasis exchange platform. We’re also seeing solid trading activity, especially with new-to-crypto investors entering the market.
We see a lot of potential for crypto adoption within the MENA region. The right regulation coupled with investor awareness initiatives is going to drive mass adoption of crypto assets in the region. Increased participation from institutional investors and traditional financial institutions, is also driving trust and scale for the crypto economy and helping this market grow and mature.
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