Middle East, Asia and Africa blockchain association launches in Abu Dhabi

Regulation

A new blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused association has been launched within Abu Dhabi’s free economic zone that aims to further the development of blockchain and crypto ecosystems across the Middle Eastern, North Africa, and Asian regions.

The Middle East, Africa & Asia Crypto & Blockchain Association (MEAACBA) was officially launched on Nov. 8 in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), a free economic zone based in the center of the city subject to its own set of civil and commercial laws. The zone was designed to further the growth of fintech companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The nonprofit organization will aim to facilitate regulatory solutions, create commercial opportunities and invest in education to support industry growth, according to its website.

The association will be spearheaded by board chairman Jehanzeb Awan, founder of an international risk and compliance consulting firm headquartered in Dubai.

Other supporting the association include Binance’s regional head of Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Richard Teng, Crypto.com’s general manager of Middle East and Africa, Stuart Isted, and Ola Doudin, the CEO of BitOasis, a cryptocurrency exchange in the region.

Awan said he hopes the organization will bring about a collaborative and community-based approach to further industry growth in the MENA region and “create wide-reaching benefits for this highly dynamic and exciting space.”

“The industry will benefit from the Association as it provides a coordination mechanism between regulators, government agencies, banks, legal, tax, and advisory firms to address the most pressing challenges,” he added.

ADGM’s chairman Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi also stated that MEAACBA’s addition would contribute to a much more “progressive financial sector” in the region.

Related: UAE Web3 ecosystem houses almost 1.5K active organizations: Report

MEAACBA’s launch comes as the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) — the financial regulator of ADGM’s free economic zone — published a set of “Guiding Principles” on its approach to navigate the regulatory complexities brought to it by the digital asset industry in September.

The principles are said to be “crypto-friendly” while still complying with some of the strict international standards on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CFT) by the United Nations.

The MENA region is also the fastest-growing cryptocurrency market in the world, according to a recent study. During a 12-month stretch from July 2021 and June 2022, transaction volume in MENA reached $566 billion, an increase of 48% from the previous 12 months.

The use case for cryptocurrencies in many of these emerging markets has come in the form of savings preservation and remittance payments to counter the effects of inflation in highly unstable economies.

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