Ali Alobaid, the managing director of trading platform BitOasis in Saudi Arabia, expects cryptocurrency use in the MENA region to grow fast over the next few years. He said the value of virtual asset transactions in the Kingdom was worth around $20 billion, with over 800,000 Saudis using digital currencies last year.
This year, Ali Alobaid joined BitOasis, a leading crypto trading platform operating in seven countries across the MENA region, as managing director for Saudi Arabia, following other roles in the payments and fintech space in the country.
“We believe that this can grow by five times over the next five years,” he told Arab News. “Last year, KSA probably represented 15% of Gulf Cooperation Council and the Middle East and North Africa activity.”
The executive added: “In terms of demographics, our user base in the Kingdom is primarily made up of millennials. More specifically, close to 45% of all trading activity on BitOasis is driven by 25-34-year-olds, while another 30% is driven by 35-44-year-olds.”
Alobaid said he expected cryptocurrency use in the MENA to grow fast over the next few years.
“We are still at an early stage in the region’s journey toward mass adoption of virtual assets or cryptocurrency,” the BitOasis MD added. “We estimate that by the end of the year, about 4% of the adult population in the MENA will have invested in crypto-currencies. In the US the number is about 20%.”
The BitOasis executive also expected this type of currency will be embraced more by a younger, tech-savvy, generation.
“We do expect markets that are characterized by young, tech-savvy early adopters that are keen to get exposure to a diversity of investable assets, where nations such as Saudi Arabia, will witness accelerating adoption and growth in the next few years,” Alobaid said. “The adoption of these assets in the MENA region grew by 15 times between July 2020 to June 2021 — twice the global average. The Kingdom is one of the fastest-growing markets for crypto-adoption in the MENA region.”
The executive revealed BitOasis has a partnership with UK-based online payment firm Checkout.com, which makes it easier for users to transfer funds and “reduces friction.”
Also, Alobaid expects cryptocurrencies will be gradually regulated over the next two years.
“We currently have the Central Bank of Bahrain, the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and the Dubai World Trade Center that regulate virtual asset activity. The Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority has indicated that they intend to launch a framework for the UAE,” he said, adding: “This will further drive consumer protection, foreign investment, and innovation and ensure that the region develops its own relevant use-cases around Web3 (blockchain-based) technologies.”
Despite the volatility of digital coins, Alobaid sees them as a useful asset class.
“It is true that virtual assets are subject to volatility, not unlike many financial assets, however, over the long-term, investors in virtual assets have reaped significant gains,” the BitOasis MD said. “Virtual assets are another type of investable asset class and one that has increased in popularity globally over the last decade. Today the market cap of virtual assets is approximately $2 trillion against $12 trillion for gold. Investors can diversify their portfolios, which today may consist of stocks, or real estate, along with virtual assets to achieve diversification.”
BitOasis is the Middle East & North Africa’s leading online crypto asset trading platform that allows trading of over 40 crypto-assets. Established in the UAE in 2015, BitOasis serves retail and professional traders and investors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and the wider Middle East market.
The company recently completed a $30 million Series B financing raising funds from local and global investors including Jump Capital, Wamda, Alameda Research, Pantera Capital, and Global Founders Capital.
Last month, BitOasis received its provisional approval from Dubai’s new crypto regulator (VARA).