Blockchain and cryptocurrency is ‘here to stay’ – UAE’s Bank of Sharjah CEO

    02 Feb 2022

    Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are not only difficult to regulate but are also here to stay, said Varouj Nerguizian, CEO of the UAE-based Bank of Sharjah. However, despite this prediction, the CEO admits that many in the banking sector still do not fully understand this technology.

    Varouj Nerguizian, the CEO of Bank of Sharjah, has said the blockchain and cryptocurrencies are not going away but are likely to become a significant part of the banking system. However, he also said banks can only fully benefit from technology when deploying non-public or enterprise blockchains.

    In a recent interview, the CEO also told Emirates News how the blockchain can potentially be a double-edged sword to financial institutions attempting to adapt to the post-pandemic landscape.

    “Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that is not yet fully understood by the banking industry at large,” he said. “While its application is easy to grasp in certain areas like KYC [Know Your Customer] or the real estate title deed verification, blockchain supposedly allows parties to transact with each other without the need for an intermediary. This raises the authorities’ concerns that would like to monitor the activity.”

    Regarding the future of crypto and blockchain, especially in the wake of increased scrutiny from regulators and governments worldwide, Nerguizian emphasized that the technology is not going away.

    “I personally believe blockchain technology, and by extension, cryptocurrency is here to stay and are impossible to regulate at large,” Nerguizian explained. “However, in UAE, jurisdictions like ADGM [Abu Dhabi Global Market] and DIFC [Dubai International Financial Centre] have come up with crypto regulations and might in time be a significant part of the banking landscape as we move forward.”

    He also expressed his belief that the banking industry had been headed for a digital transformation even before the pandemic struck. More companies, including banks, shifted to a practice where employees worked remotely as the pandemic spread globally.

    As per Nerguizian, when banks exploit their employees’ ability to work remotely, they will likely “reap future gains and profitability.”

    Meanwhile, according to a recent survey of the payment giant Visa, almost 25% of small business owners across 9 countries, including Brazil, Singapore, UAE, and Hong Kong, said they intend to embrace digital currencies as a form of payment in 2022. Also, 13% of consumers in these countries predicted retail stores will begin allowing crypto settlements in the next 12 months.

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