The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is looking to strengthen the country’s position as a leading player in the adoption of blockchain technology , as it’s seen to be one of the most pro-blockchain nations at the government level. According to the second UAE Government Annual Meeting conference in Abu Dhabi, blockchain technology will be implemented across all the smart cities in the seven emirates.
The UAE government has launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, which aims to capitalise on the blockchain technology and transform 50% of government transactions into the blockchain platform by 2021. The technology help to save time, effort and resources as well as facilitate people to process transactions. The government plans to save AED 11 billion transactions and documents processed, 398 million printed documents annually, and 77 million work hours annually.
Through this strategy, the UAE will utilise blockchain for digital transactions with a unique identification number for each customer. It claims that the informations and data cannot be hacked or changed, ensuring the digital security of national documents and transactions, reducing operational cost and accelerating decision-making process.
To support the development of blockchain technology, The National Programme for AI and Blockchain Capacity Building was also launched to provide educational university programmes and scholarships in the cooperation with the Ministry of Higher Education. It offers specialised training programmes to train Emirati staff across all professional levels.
Dubai, the largest and most populous city in the UAE, aims to become the world’s first government powered fully by blockchain. Through the adoption of blockchain, both public and private services in Dubai can be paid using the digital currency. As recorded by Smart Dubai Initiative, the blockchain technology could save 25.1 million man hours, or USD 1.5 billion in savings per year for the emirate.
Last October, the city launched emCash to pay for government services, such as visas, school fees, and passports. It is intended to migrate all governmental paperwork to the blockchain. emCash partnership includes emCredit, a subsidiary of the DUbai Department of Economic Development, blockchain payment provider Pundi X and its partner Ebooc Fintech & Loyalty Labs LLC. Ebooc is responsible to provide point of sale terminals in retail outlets, while Pundi X is expected to create 100,000 point of sale units over the next three years.
The recent legal framework for initial coin offerings (ICO) is also seen to be a possibility for the country to be popular crypto destination. The UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) has approved the ICO as securities and will work with the Abu Dhabi and Dubai stock exchanges to develop trading platforms by mid-2019.
ICOs are the cryptocurrency version of initial public offering (IPO). The technology enables investors to buy units of cryptocurrency and receive tokens as shares. ICOs can be used as a source of capital and offer a way of crowdfunding for startups or SMEs. According to ICO Rating, Coin offerings raised USD 3.3 billion (Dh12bn) through 412 projects in the first quarter of 2018.