As the UAE progressively opens up to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, global players are increasingly making a beeline to the Gulf state, to set up regional offices and begin trading operations in government-endorsed free zones specially set up for the purpose.
One such global entity is New York-based Future Fintech Group (NASDAQ: FTFT), a leading blockchain-based e-commerce business and fintech service provider, that has recently registered a new subsidiary, FTFT Capital Investments, in Dubai.
With Dubai firmly stamping its status as an emerging international financial centre FTFT Capital aims to offer digital currency trading services and crypto asset management by utilising blockchain technology.
While attending Gitex Global x Ai Everything held at Dubai World Trade Centre (October 17-21, 2021) Ola J. Lind, Managing Director of FTFT Capital, briefed MENews247 on the sidelines of the global tech show about the roadmap that the newly setup Dubai-headquartered holding company intends to follow.
Excerpts from the exclusive interview:
MENews247: Can you get us up to speed on all things FTFT Capital?
Ola J. Lind: We created FTFT Capital in Dubai as a subsidiary of NASDAQ-listed FTFT. We are 55% owned by FTFT. As part of our Dubai operations we participate in, invest and operate with partners. We used to operate a trading platform in China, but, due to the new government regulations in China, we have taken our over 1.3 million subscriber base and we have migrated to Dubai, to a new blockchain-based crypto platform where you can learn everything about crypto, crypto news, all the coins, and all the data from 300 exchanges globally.
We will officially launch the new Dubai platform next month [November 2021] for the Middle East region and for the Western world as well. As part of the new platform rollout our Estonia-registered company that possesses all the requisite KYC [Know Your Customer] and AML [Anti Money Laundering] certificates and licences will operate the blockchain-based crypto platform.
We are launching aggregated trading; which is something new; something that does not exist in the Middle East region yet. What we are doing is something very exciting for any player in blockchain or crypto trading in general. The way the industry works today is you have to do one registration, one AML and one KYC. And, you have to set up an account each time, and, you have to transfer, to be able to trade on various platforms.
However, with our new aggregated trading platform, we will offer the opportunity to trade in any order, or choose any platform at the same time. You just have to do one AML and one KYC with us as we have escrow accounts with all the different exchanges. So, we facilitate the trade for you without additional conditions. You will also have an opportunity to choose the specific period when you want to trade. Because, the big difference between different exchanges is actually the price ranges at the same time, owing to the liquidity or how much trade is going on, how much volatility there is in the market.
You, as a trader, you obviously want to do the best trade; we will give you the opportunity to do so with our aggregated trading offering. Our platform will be a consumer-centric information one-stop shop where you can learn about and get all essential data about crypto and blockchain.
At the same time, as trading on crypto exchanges is 24×7 unlike the standard stock market and you as a trader may not have the time to continuously be online trading due to time and other constraints, we will have a subscriber interface that will alert you to options you are interested in, after you set up the different parameters that you need, either to enter or to leave or exit different trades or different opportunities. In effect, the whole process is automated for you. Whether beginner or professional trading, all the tools will be available for use on the subscriber platform. We also have our marketing platform that is integrated with all the latest news regarding crypto and blockchain globally.
MENews247: Why the Middle East, to launch your new platform?
Ola J. Lind: Two things. One is that interest in the Middle East region is picking up very heavily. Obviously, as is also the situation globally, most of this new-found interest has to do with the way and manner Bitcoin is faring. Then, some governments in the region have now started accepting blockchain and crypto currencies as legal tender, and in some countries that you can actually trade in.
MENews247: Who are the prime crypto trading players on a global scale?
Ola J. Lind: Everybody tends to think about big investors, but in reality, the biggest uptake is actually with the low-end of the market; migrant workers working in other countries than their own. It is not the high-end part of the market or individuals with a lot of money that are doing most of the trades on crypto today. The high cost of remittances from Europe to Africa, or from the Middle East to Asia and so on is quite high and time-consuming for the bottom half of the market.
But, with cryptocurrencies, remittances can be done quite cheaply and instantaneously. Both, migrant workers on the sending end and their families on the receiving end, have the opportunity to actually participate in this ecosystem. We see this scenario being played out in Asia; Vietnam, India, and Pakistan, and where most of the trading is going on in cryptocurrencies, essentially, at the peer-to-peer level!
Then, you have several African countries; Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya, among the top 10 crypto nations. Then, you have some South American countries, Eastern European countries are also high on the crypto remittance list. So, the uptake is not of the wealthy people, but actually the common people. And that is the most exciting one. A prime reason why crypto is so popular with undocumented or guest workers, is the sheer amount of regulations in the regulated financial markets they have to contend with, when remitting money home.
MENews247: What role are regulatory authorities in the Middle East adopting when it comes to crypto?
Ola J. Lind: I think the relevant regulators in the region have taken a most healthy approach. They have not forbidden crypto. Instead, they have said let us adopt the sandbox approach [regulatory sandbox refers to live testing of new products or services in a controlled/test regulatory environment for which regulators may permit certain relaxations for the limited purpose of the testing].
I think regulatory bodies in the region have made a very good move by not rushing their decision. They are doing it step by step, to ensure that they are doing the right thing. I think this is an amazing approach.
MENews247: What challenges do you foresee in scaling up business?
Ola J. Lind: My challenge is the consumer. Because, we do not want to scale just because of profitability and make money from the whole thing. We want business to be sustainable – meaning that the right consumer has to be the right choice for us – in the sense of education and so forth. We would like to take it step by step, just like the government here [Dubai]. We will do it, but we will make sure that each pillar that we build is sustainable.
The most important aspect for us to scale anything is to always be consumer-centric and solve problems in today’s market. We think we are doing it right with our new aggregated trading initiative because it addresses the biggest hurdle facing everybody today.