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(Kitco News) – Cryptocurrency-related activity in the Middle East is on the rise as the global integration of blockchain technology and digital assets continues to expand to every jurisdiction on the planet.
On Wednesday, 21 Shares, a global provider of cryptocurrency exchange-trading products (ETP), debuted the launch of a physically-backed Bitcoin ETP in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The new Bitcoin ETP is currently available on the international financial exchange Nasdaq Dubai under the ticker ABTC.
The new product is physically backed and fully collateralized by Bitcoin with 1:1 leverage. According to 21Shares co-founder and CEO Hany Rashwan, the underlying cryptoassets are stored in an offline wallet to ensure better security.
The launch into the UAE market is a milestone for 21 Shares, the firm’s first foray into the Middle East. The addition of Nasdaq Dubai means that the company’s ETPs are now listed on a total of 12 exchanges, including SIX Swiss Exchange, Deutsche Börse, EuroNext, BXSwiss, Wiener Börse, Quotrix, Gettex, Börse Stuttgart, Börse München, Börse Düsseldorf and Nasdaq.
Germany and Switzerland currently represent the two biggest markets for 21Shares’ crypto ETPs in Europe according to Rashwan.
“In terms of MENA, we expect strong interest given the crypto-friendly nature of the region,” Rashwan said, adding that the UAE received more cryptocurrency than any other Arab country in 2021. “The Middle East’s level of interest and crypto-friendliness made it a prime market for expansion for 21Shares.”
Nasdaq Dubai is also home to a non-physically backed Bitcoin ETP that was released by the Canadian investment fund manager 3iQ in 2021, which trades under the ticker QBTC.
BNY Mellon opens a payment corridor between Egypt and China
In other developments out of the MENA region, BNY Mellon, the world’s largest custodial bank, announced that it has “successfully facilitated the first-of-its-kind, fully-transparent payment transaction between Egypt and China.”
The payment was made using the new SWIFT Go service, with BNY Mellon acting as the intermediary in a transaction between QNB Al Ahli Egypt, the remitting bank, and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, the beneficiary bank.
According to the release, the total process was completed in less than three hours, which is a significant improvement over the two-plus days that cross-border transactions between Egypt and China previously took to complete.
“We’re thrilled to introduce cost-effective solutions for a better payment experience,” said Isabel Schmidt, Co-Head of Global Payments Products at BNY Mellon. “Thanks to this collaboration, our clients in the region will see a wide range of benefits, including faster speeds, more predictable fees, and greater security.”
BNY Mellon became the first US bank to support SWIFT Go back in July 2021. On October 11, the bank revealed that it will begin allowing customers to hold their cryptocurrency assets alongside their traditional investments on the same platform – becoming the first large U.S. bank to do so.
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