Dubai launches blockchain data platform

The United Arab Emirates has announced the launch of its KYC platform — built entirely on blockchain technology

Image of Dubai at sunset
Dubai has a free zone dedicated to businesses in the fintech industry, as part of the emirate’s support of the emerging technologies

Dubai has completed a nationwide blockchain system for the exchange of verified customer data. The Emirate’s Department of Economic Development (DED) and state-run bank Emirates NBD are in the process of rolling out the system, which is called the United Arab Emirates (UAE) KYC Blockchain Platform.

The platform was first unveiled in February 2020 and was created to allow for digital customer onboarding, instantaneous bank account functions and verified KYC data sharing between licensing authorities and financial institutions.

When the DED and Emirates NBD announced an update for the platform on July 28, they also revealed that the platform has over 120 companies that have already been onboarded by the bank.

Emirates NBD will be working mostly with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), providing assistance with digital onboarding. In addition, SMEs will be able to fast-track opening their bank accounts through Emirates NBD’s E20 Digital Business Bank.

For the initial stage of the project, the Ministry of Economy moved its entire stock of active trade licenses to the blockchain-powered platform. The number of trade licenses in the emirate accounts to over 40% of all active trade licenses across the entire UAE.

The project is in line with the government’s vision on digitisation and is supported by several high profile local authorities. This includes the government-backed office of innovation, Smart Dubai, as well as the Central Bank of the UAE.

DED and Emirates NBD have shared that the platform will soon feature a number of banks, including the Commercial Bank of Dubai, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, RakBank and HSBC.

The Chief Executive Officer of the business registration and licensing sector at the DED, Omar Bushahab, stated that these developments are a key milestone in the UAE’s work towards establishing a country-wide fintech ecosystem.

The executive also provided an outline of the bank’s next steps.

“The next milestone will be the go-live of Emirates NBD’s additional use cases and of our remaining banking partners along with the official release of the Consortium Agreement that will govern the ecosystem and outline how data will be shared between Consortium Members.” he explained.

The UAE has emerged as one of the Middle East’s regional leaders in cryptocurrencies and fintech; holding an open stance on these nascent industries.

Earlier this year, the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) became the first Islamic bank to carry out trade finance distribution transactions with blockchain technology.

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