Abu Dhabi getting serious about blockchain

The capital of one of the world’s most influential Islamic finance markets is moving apace with making digital culture the common language in the financial space.

Abu Dhabi is leading the way for its Middle Eastern and North African counterparts in blockchain development and implementation particularly for its banking and financial industry. In the last few weeks, the UAE capital’s international financial center joined New York-based distributed database technology company, R3, while its stock exchange hosted annual general meetings (AGMs) for several listed entities using blockchain.

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is the first regulatory body in the MENA region to join the international consortium, building the bridge between R3 and regional banks in one of the most important Islamic financial markets.

“MENA is a very important region for us as we continue to develop distributed ledger technology solutions for financial services, and banks operating in the Gulf with be key strategic partners in our collaborative efforts,” said David E Rutter, CEO of R3.

Membership in this global league of over 80 of the biggest names in the finance world would allow ADGM access to information and best practices it needs to develop its blockchain ecosystem, including nurturing regulation technology.
“We will be able to closely monitor blockchain developments and better assess the impact to the financial market and the economy as well as develop effective regtech solutions that benefit the financial industry,” shared Richard Teng, CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM.

Being privy to such a resource would assist the integration of blockchain technology in the emirate’s stock exchange. Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), which has a close relationship with ADGM, recently conducted AGMs for six listed companies using blockchain, allowing investors to e-vote – from inside and outside of the UAE – and access statistical records through smart devices. The bourse is the first to adopt blockchain in the MENA region, and the third in the world to have done so. ADX CEO Rashed Al Blooshi confirmed that the stock exchange has contracted several companies to act as its agent.

“This includes distributing dividends on their behalf and transferring it to the bank accounts of the company’s shareholders within 30 days of the AGM. It also enables ADX to manage the records and the general assemblies,” Rashed explained. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company and Watania are among the Islamic financial institutions listed on the ADX that could leverage on this technology.

It is not unlikely that ADGM’s planned stock exchange, which will be developed in partnership with ADX, would also utilize blockchain technology.


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