Talal Tabbaa, Coin Mena: “We want to be the biggest and the best in the Middle East”

    03 Nov 2021

    Please tell us about your project, when it was created, and who is the company founder and what is this project about?


    My name is Talal Tabbaa and I am one of the founders CoinMena. We are 3 founders: myself, Dina Sam’an and Yazan Barghuthhi. We started the exchange out of the need, because crypto services in the Middle East are not very reliable. So we wanted to create a one that is very reliable and that is why we got regulated by the Central Bank. We started the exchange 5 month ago but it took about 13 months to get fully licensed. We started in the end of 2019. Project has 3 founders and it has top investors.


    On your point of view, at which stage of development is company right now?


    In crypto all companies are still young companies because we still are an industry that growing at a very fast pace. We have been live for 5 months now so I would say that we still are at early stages. Our Mobile App is working, web app is working. So the core functionality is there. It’s up to us to basically interviate in our terms of the product offerings.


    How did Covid impact your development?


    Didn’t really impact our development. We are a remote company which means that if you have your laptop and internet connection, you can do your work. Luckily for us crypto business in general are saw appositive turnout from Covid. Most industries were hit hard. However industries like crypto were actually able to benefit.


    In regards to government connections, do you feel some delays from that?


    No actually it is interesting that Central Bank of Bahrein moved to completely digital system. Which means that we submit our forms, our applications everything digitally. It forced people to accept more digital staff because it is more efficient way of doing it.


    What do you thing of the condition of doing crypto business in Bahrain?


    I think it is one the best globally. We had a very good experience working with them. Their visionary leadership, the governor is Excellency also a visionary so I can only say good things about Bahrain and I am very grateful that we were regulated there.


    Making business there, does it entail any additional restrictions compared to similar structures in Europe and USA or do you have more freedom of act?


    It depends who you compare it to. If you compare it to US, US is a very complex regulatory system where you don’t have entity who is in charge. Where is in Bahrain you deal with central bank and that basically covers pretty much everything. US strong security restrictions of security laws, Europe focus is more anti money laundering which I think is a better approach.


    What does it mean to comply with sharia law?


    You are not allowed to use interest, so we don’t offer any margin, we don’t offer any leverage, we don’t use any interest bearing facilities, that’s the main concept. We work with the bureau.


    Do you feel interest from local customers who are would like to comply business sharia?


    It you have worked in Saudi Arabia or any JCC countries there is a part of the market that wants to work with sharia complies exchanges that’s why we think it is an advantage. You don’t take excessive risk. I believe sharia it is good way to do business.


    Are your customers private or corporate?


    It is retail. We don’t focus too much on corporate maybe in the future we will start focusing. We believe that the biggest opportunity is in mass retail.


    Can you describe your average customer?


    In crypto I think it’s mainly a male industry unfortunately. I would like to see more female participation. But mostly its males age between 22 and 40. That is the majority of the crypto industry, not in the Middle East, but globally.


    What is the field of working of your average customer? How do you think?


    Every industry. Most people come from professional services consulting, lawyers, IT, people in finance industry that are not afraid to change. If you go speak to the banker, there is 2 type of bankers: banker will tell you “Crypto is not important”, and other banker that is open minded.


    What is your plan for upcoming year? Are there are there any metrics: number of users, turnover? What are targets for the next year?


    We don’t limit ourselves, we want to be the biggest and the best in the Middle East. And that is what we are hopeful of being. In the Middle East there are more than 500 million people, so sky is the limit.


    Who are your main competitors and who do you see working with?


    We don’t compare ourselves to competitors. We hold ourselves to our own standard, so I don’t really care what others are doing. I wish them all the best, but we don’t compare ourselves to other exchange. We compare ourselves only with our expectations. We have many partners, custody side, insurance, regulatory, so there is a wide range of partners and stakeholders.


    What do you think about the potential of crypto industry developed in gulf countries?


    Its amazing product market, because you have a young population, they all have smartphones, but not all of them have bank accounts. It is a very good opportunity for crypto. Not only for the trading side, but for using a financial services based on crypto.


    The gulf region is highly developed in business with a strong money flow, but it still yet to take full advantage of DeFi capabilities. Do you have any plans for this blockchan industry?


    The DeFi industry in my opinion is a global one. It doesn’t not matter the region. I definitely think that the future of money is going to be built on the rails that are similar to the DeFi today. CoinMena will allow users to start accessing those superior financial products.


    This spring, you added four new cryptoassets to your portfolio – Chainlink, Compound, Uniswap, and USD Coin. What is the total number of cryptocurrencies you work with today? What currencies are you planning to add in the future? 


    We currently have 9 including the 4 you have mentioned. We also have Bitcoin, Riple, Etherium and others. And hopefully we will be adding more in the upcoming month.


    Which one?


    We don’t disclose that yet, some exciting are coming in the pipeline.


    Your exchange services are currently available to the residence of Bahrain. Do you have any plans to expand to the other countries?  And what are your plans outside the region?



    We will definitely expand to other countries but we work very close to the central bank of Bahrain. So any move we make it will be coordinated with the regulator and eventually we will expand outside the region.


    How do you percuss the next 5 years?


    Currently we are in a 2.2 trillion dollar industry. I think in coming 5 years we can expect it to go to 8 trillion. Because today 2.5% world with crypto can go to 8 or 10% in the coming 5 years. Because you have to remember that technology adoption is explanational and not linear.


    Some experts say that big amount of money goes to the crypto, could lead to the world crisis same as it was in 2008. What is our opinion in that?


    First of all, anyone that calls themselves a crypto expert does not know what they are talking about, because there are no crypto experts because the industry is brand new, no one knows 100 percent. And trying to time the crashes is something that I think is naive. If there is actually somebody who thinks that there will be a global market crash, they wouldn’t go and say it in the news, they would take a position and make money off of it.


    You participated in two events in Dubai. How did you benefit? What is your opinion on the events and how they were organized?


    It was a physical event after Covid and it was great that people could go interacting face to face. We benefited from the event in multiple ways. From user accusation, brand recognition. It was a good thing and we will continue to do more of.


    What is your opinion of the level of the organization of this events?


    Amazing, Dubai is one of the best countries in the world when it comes to event management. Always proud to be part of this events and this country.


    What will you tell your grandkids about this period of life?


    Interesting question. Actually the reason why I am very passionate about crypto, it can allow many people to become a part of finance. Today a lot of people don’t have an access to a bank account. And financial services are more favorable toward the rich people that the mass population. Example: if somebody that has a low salary foes to get a loan, most likely he gets rejected.  If they get accepted, they get a really high interest rate. Opposite side, someone with millions goes to get the loan from the bank, they will get a low interest rate. Financial system at the moment is not a fair system and I this crypto can provide us with the fair financial system. Hopefully I can tell my grandkids that I played part in that system.

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