Up close and personal with MEAPT's most prominent players in the ecosystem. Today we invite Dina Sam'an, Co-founder & Managing Director of MENA's Rising Digital Assets and Blockchain startup CoinMENA
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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 Dina Sam'an, Co-founder & Managing Director of CoinMENA, the Digital Assets and Blockchain startup setting the infrastructures for a regulated digital asset trading platform in the region:
How would you describe the market readiness for Cryptocurrency in MENA and what has been the impact/importance of being based & regulated in Bahrain?
From an individual investor perspective, we are witnessing growing levels of awareness around crypto assets, which has translated into an increased appetite for investment. From an institutional perspective, adoption is still at a relatively early stage, but interest is definitely growing. Globally, institutional adoption of crypto is increasing quite rapidly, and historically this indicates that regional adoption will follow suit. Crypto has proven itself as a legitimate asset class that provides diversification and is part of an increasing number of portfolios.
Being headquartered and licensed in Bahrain has many benefits. The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) is very well respected as a regulator globally and has clear and comprehensive crypto regulations. Additionally, Bahrain is the only onshore jurisdiction in the region with such a dedicated regulatory framework. For CoinMENA, being licensed by the CBB ensures that we operate under robust regulations with the highest levels of corporate governance and security standards. This provides customers with the assurance that their funds are safe and held with globally leading custodians at all times.
What are the most important considerations/needs for the Cryptocurrency market to thrive in MENA and how does that compare to the global Cryptocurrency movement?
Regulatory clarity across different jurisdictions globally and regionally is required. This is essential for the industry to become mainstream and for financial institutions being comfortable with dealing with crypto companies, which is essential to ensure that trustworthy fiat-to-crypto rails are established. This in turn will encourage more people to invest at a local level. Internationally, there are several global jurisdictions that have put in place crypto-related regulatory frameworks including the United States and Canada (at a state or provincial level), the United Kingdom, European Union, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
At a regional level, Bahrain (onshore) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) are the only two jurisdictions that have dedicated crypto assets regulations and as such, we still have a long way to go to attain such regulatory clarity.
The more traction the industry gains internationally, the more this will reflect positively on the industry regionally.
In 2021, Crypto Exchange platforms raised south of $50M, with the exceptional fundraise by UAE-based Cryptocurrency platform BitOasis (UAE) driving 60% of these funds. Sizable investments were also raised by CoinMENA (Bahrain) and Sheesha Finance (UAE) to bring the global Cryptocurrency drive to the Middle East. This comes amidst a remarkable drive for FinTech solutions across Emerging Venture Markets, wherein the FinTech sector recorded a 550% YoY growth in VC funding as observed in our FinTech 2022 Venture Investment Report.
What is your prediction for Cryptocurrency in MENA and what is your vision for CoinMENA's role in bringing that to fruition?
As we see an acceleration in digital transformation in the region and further proliferation of digital financial services, crypto will play an even bigger role. We anticipate that over the next few years, we will see more jurisdictions establish dedicated regulatory frameworks, which would lead to increased investments at both the individual and institutional levels.
As CoinMENA, we would like to be the leading, safest, and most reliable platform for the crypto economy in the region, for both individuals and institutions. We are in the early stages of our journey and both our product offering and geographical coverage will expand significantly in the near future.
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