Middle East welcomes crypto, while the US is tightening regulations

    14 Nov 2021

    Saudi Arabia and the UAE are rolling out a red carpet of easy cryptocurrency regulation, US crypto entrepreneurs say. It’s setting up a contrast to the US, where officials are tightening crypto rules.

    Financial giants like Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman attended the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, where joined some of the biggest names in the crypto world, such as Ripple Labs CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz.

    In the last few years, Saudi Arabia made a lot of effort to attract crypto companies. The Saudi Central Bank and Central Bank of the UAE have been working together to learn how the two banks can adopt blockchain and digital payments.

    “Saudi Arabia wants to be an international financial center — and they know crypto will be part of that,” Mike Novogratz told The Post.

    He said that the official stamp of approval is starting to show results.

    “I’ve been coming to the region for years, and this is the first time I felt like the big pools of capital were interested in crypto. In the meetings I had with investors, people were asking very advanced questions about adoption and regulation,” Novogratz added.

    According to The Post’s sources, the Middle East’s major sovereign wealth funds are going to invest in crypto in the next 12 months.

    Meantime, in Saudi Arabia, the emphasis on crypto is part of the country’s Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy and make the country an innovation hub.

    Brad Garlinghouse of Ripple Labs said that the UAE created so-called “financial free zones,” or areas mainly free of taxes and strict regulation.

    “I think it’s clear that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wants to be technology and blockchain forward-leaning,” he noted. “This was obvious at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference.”

    In late October, Saudi Arabia has announced the launch of Ripple’s “On-Demand Liquidity platform” to ease international payments.

    Meantime, in the US, Ripple is focused on fighting a lawsuit. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleges Rippled violated the Securities Act of 1933, claiming that Ripple should have registered its XRP digital coin as security but failed to do so. Ripple contends it’s been using XRP as a currency for years and wasn’t told to register it as a security.

    Moreover, the Treasury Department ramped up its aggressive crypto attitude in a recent report advocating Congress crackdown on issuers of “stablecoins” — cryptocurrencies pegged to fiat money — and regulate the technology as a traditional bank.

    Facing possible difficulties with US regulators, crypto evangelists say they’re hopeful about their prospects in the Middle East. And the high attendance of The Future Investment Initiative is evidence of the big trek to the region, attendees said.

    “Crypto played a bigger role at FII than in previous years,” claimed Bob Diamond, former Barclays CEO who is helping take crypto company Circle public via SPAC. “In the last year, crypto has gotten so big people can’t ignore it.”

    The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is an international platform for expert-led debate between global leaders, investors, and innovators with the power to shape the future of global investment. It is focused on utilizing investment to drive growth opportunities, enable innovation and disruptive technologies, and address global challenges.​

    The FII 5th Anniversary Forum took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 26-28. Organizers said that there are more than 2,000 missions and 5,000 participants this year at the event.

    Image source: https://www.sustg.com/future-investment-initiative-fii-kicks-off-5th-annual-summit-with-focus-on-climate-humanity-energy/

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