Crypto startup Fasset boosts crypto adoption in Islamic countries

    16 Apr 2022

    Fasset, a crypto-asset gateway oriented to the Islamic world, is planning a major expansion, seeking to boost the adoption of cryptocurrencies in Indonesia and Pakistan, where it is still viewed with suspicion.

    The firm closed a $22 million Series A funding round led by Liberty City Ventures and Fatima Gobi Ventures, as well as regional family offices from the Middle East and South Asia. According to a statement, the money will be spent on further product development and market expansion.

    Fasset revealed its plans to launch services in Indonesia and Pakistan. In Pakistan, the firm is ready to offer digital asset services, while in Indonesia, it’s set to receive an approval to operate as a full-service crypto exchange in May. The company also plans to double its staff by the end of the year.

    Mohammad Raafi Hossain, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, who’s also a former adviser to the UAE Prime Minister’s Office, told Bloomberg:

    “We have been working with some of the most prolific and well-known Islamic finance jurists and thought-leaders to educate the masses on how Muslims can interact with this emerging asset class in a Sharia-compliant manner.”

    Some Islamic countries are still skeptical regarding cryptocurrencies. Indonesia’s National Ulema Council declared it haram in November, even though the government has been supportive of crypto assets, allowing it to be traded alongside commodity futures as an investment option and pushing to set up a crypto-focused exchange by the end of the year.

    Other corners of the Islamic world, such as Dubai, show a different narrative, luring digital asset firms, and the strategy has been working. Recently, Bybit moved its headquarters to Dubai from Singapore.

    “We have seen multiple use cases come to the fore such as ‘zakat’ payments on crypto being championed by Islamic charities in Europe,” Mohammad said, referring to an Islamic levy. “We will continue to see this trend as adoption and awareness increase.”

    Meanwhile, Jaime Baeza, CEO of Miami-based crypto hedge fund ANB Investments, noted the distinct approaches to crypto adoption in different Islamic jurisdictions:

    “Countries such as the UAE or Bahrain, with their pro-crypto approach, clearly recognize the value of the industry and are pushing to position themselves as global leaders. Alternatively, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait have a more restrictive view.”

    However, Mohammad Raafi Hossain is still positive: as the ways that crypto and decentralized finance can be used in real life increase, they may become more tempting.

    “Fasset is all about bringing multi-faceted digital asset use cases that connect home markets to their diaspora,” he said, adding that digital asset-driven remittance corridors can unleash a new wave of socioeconomic prosperity in the region.

    As Indonesia and Pakistan are among countries with millions of “unbanked” people, financial inclusion via innovative digital assets will help lift people out of poverty, gain economic security and participate in the global financial system, proponents say.

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