The United Arab Emirates government has taken a step towards digital currency payments, with one of its entities becoming the first to accept digital currency payments. KIKLABB, a Dubai-based license bureau, will allow citizens to pay for their visa and trade license fees in digital currencies.
KIKLABB has noted a rising interest in citizens interested in making payments via digital currencies stated CEO Tasawar Ulhaq. Speaking to Dubai-based outlet Arabian Business, he stated, “We’ve seen growing interest in cryptocurrency with several customers in the blockchain and fintech sectors part of the KIKLABB community, so it really was just a matter of time before we recognised Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether.”
Touting digital currencies as the payment method of the future, he believes that KIKLABB is just the first of many other public entities that will embrace them.
The UAE government has been promoting the uptake of blockchain technology over the past few years. Through its Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, it’s working on integrating the technology in at least half of its transactions. It believes this would cut down annual costs by over $3 billion. That stance is a common one for government entities in the region, said Bitcoin Association Founding President Jimmy Nguyen, who last year led a pair of business delegations centred around the Ritossa Family Office Investment Summit.
“In the Middle East, a lot of the bold and truly innovative proposed applications of blockchain technology are being spearheaded by government and public institutions,” he explained.
“What struck me too, in presenting to and holding discussions with the investment community in the region, is that the investment outlook has a far longer horizon. There’s a real desire to use blockchain as a tool for public good instead of as a vehicle for speculation.”
Ulhaq further revealed that his bureau has already partnered with several other firms that are seeking to integrate digital currency payments. He told the outlet:
“We’re in talks with high-profile players in the cryptocurrency sector who are exploring entry into Dubai. In addition, we have a robust community of local and international companies associated with smart contracts, blockchain and private equity working alongside start-ups in the fields of education, healthcare, and food technology.”
The UAE blockchain community has welcomed the move. Many believe that this endorsement by the government will allow smaller firms to explore this technology more confidently. In addition, the endorsement has proven that digital currencies are more than just speculative assets to hodl for a return.
Arshad Khan, the founder and CEO of local exchange Arabian Bourse remarked, “Many just relate to crypto as a volatile asset class only good for speculation and trading. But developments like this demonstrate the true potential of crypto which is it being the most efficient medium of exchange.”
The UAE’s blockchain strategy has centered on Dubai, the largest city. The city’s already building one of the world’s largest ecosystem for digital currencies and blockchain technology. Known as DMCC Crypto Valley, it will incubate early-stage startups, conduct blockchain training and mentoring, fund blockchain ventures and more.
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