Players in the cryptocurrency space are attracted to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because the region not only has clear regulations but is likewise “open to experimentation,” Ben Caselin, the Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at the cryptocurrency exchange Maskex, has stated. Caselin likewise stated the UAE and the Middle East’s perceived neutrality “opens doors” that cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the United States or the Asia Pacific region cannot enjoy.
Factors Behind the MENA’s Emergence as a Preferred Investment Destination
The Maskex CSO likewise informed Bitcoin.com News that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s emergence as one of the most sought-after financing destinations may be owing to what he stated as the shift of relationships. Such shifts enable “new hubs of power and innovation to emerge.”
With respect to crypto stablecoins, Caselin stated these are “hugely important” now and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, in his written responses sent to Bitcoin.com News, Caselin admits that crypto stablecoins often rouse emotions, hence their issuance is best done in collaboration with “all the right stakeholders in a given region.” In his responses, Caselin likewise shared his opinions on the ongoing artificial intelligence (AI) hype and United States regulatory woes.
Below are Caselin’s answers to questions sent to him via Telegram.
Bitcoin.com News (BCN): The UAE appears to be at the forefront of cryptocurrency regulatory innovation, with the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) supplying investors, developers, and corporations with clear regulations. In addition to regulatory clarity, what do think makes the UAE an attractive destination for talent and capital?
Ben Caselin (BC): Across the emirates that make up the UAE, there are opportunities. Although while a city such as Dubai is well-developed, it’s clear that there is still so much more room to grow and that comes with a certain excitement. From infrastructure and architecture to business and digitalization, the UAE is eager to innovate and open to experimentation. This is appealing to anyone with ambition and an entrepreneurial spirit.
BCN: Your company, Maskex, counts Sheikh Hamad bin Rakadh Al-Ameri, who is associated with a trending sovereign wealth fund in Abu Dhabi, as its major shareholder. What do you think their reasoning is behind the strong faith in Maskex and crypto?
BC: Although while some foreign exchanges much larger than ours have publicly expressed interest in obtaining a license and engaging in this region, Maskex is 1st and foremost a Dubai-based exchange and we are proud to be deeply associated with Abu Dhabi and the UAE as we serve the wider region. Additionally, established only in 2021, Maskex still has many of room to grow which is appealing to any investor. Furthermore, it’s critical to note that Maskex is not just a cryptocurrency exchange. Along with the usual cryptocurrency products such as spot, perpetuals, margin, alternatives, copy trading, staking and p2p, we likewise offer markets for both United States and Hong Kong stocks and a wide range of real-world payment, OTC and banking capabilities to both retail and institutional clients. Simply put, Maskex is very unique in its offering.
BCN: The UAE is sometimes seen as the neutral ground betwixt the West and the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. What, if any, advantages do the UAE-based exchanges have over their Western or APAC peers when serving worldwide customers?
BC: The UAE is highly respected across the region and beyond; from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Egypt, from Turkey to Uzbekistan, all the way to Indonesia, and so operating an exchange from the UAE with the right network of support behind it can open up many of doors that both United States and APAC-based exchanges would find hard to unlock. This is a good thing. I believe the industry is best served by regional consolidation, rather than worldwide monopolization.
So if we can see high-quality exchanges independently emerge and consolidate across South America, North America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, likewise as Central and South East Asia, the Far East, and the Pacific, then that’s probably better if we ever want to see the adoption of Bitcoin (BTC) and digital assets by the entire worldwide population. And by adoption, I do not just mean that people are able to win exposure to worldwide markets and take part in worldwide finance and make their own free choices as to what currencies they would like to use in their day-to-day life, but I do likewise mean the adoption of a culture of self-custody and peer-to-peer payments. Regional consolidation marks the following phase of growth in the evolution of this industry.
BCN: As a regulatory-compliant centralized exchange, Maskex reportedly intends to provide the general public with financial anonymity and autonomy. How do you strike a balance betwixt regulatory compliance and user anonymity, especially when the VARA states in the section “Prohibited Virtual Assets” that the issuing of privacy coins is prohibited in the emirate?
BC: Maskex will always must strike a balance and may adopt different strategies per jurisdiction. Privacy can be placed on a spectrum and does not just refer to privacy coins. It may likewise refer to private banking, the potential for users to generate new addresses, or seamless on and off-ramps betwixt fiat and cryptocurrency including the Maskex virtual card which allows users to pay for goods and services with USDT as their collateral.
BCN: Do you see crypto stablecoins having a role in future of the cryptocurrency and Maskex planning to launch fiat-pegged crypto stablecoins in the near future?
BC: Crypto Stablecoins remain hugely important and will no doubt remain so for the time being. Across the region, demand for USDT is soaring, so much so that demand can hardly be met. Along with USD-pegged crypto stablecoins, we can likewise expect to see more innovation around gold-pegged crypto stablecoins, especially in the present macro environment.
Gold is a trusted store of value in this region, both culturally and historically, and it’s really only a matter of time before we will see the market for gold-backed crypto stablecoins explode. We cannot disclose anything about any crypto token that we can potentially or can potentially not issue, but it’s good to note that crypto stablecoins are highly political in nature and are best announced in collaboration with all the right stakeholders in a given region.
BCN: Reports by a report by Chainalysis, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the world’s fastest- growing cryptocurrency adopter. In your opinion, what do you think are some of the factors driving cryptocurrency adoption in the region?
BC: The expansion in the MENA region cannot be attributed to one single factor alone. In the previous decade a lot has changed, both in the region itself likewise universally. From a high-level point of view, we could say that in the present macro-environment and the increasingly multi-polar world, all relationships are shifting allowing for new hubs of power and innovation to emerge. It’s time for the MENA region to come into the limelight now, not just on the cryptocurrency front, but traditionally across culture, art, business and technology. Having stated that, I see enormous opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa likewise, likewise as South America. Perhaps this decade belongs to emerging markets worldwide – and that’s a good thing as emerging markets already house over 85 percent of the world’s population.
BCN: Amid the past few artificial intelligence (AI) hype, a bunch of Artificial Intelligence (AI) crypto tokens have been grabbing the attention of traders. A lot of them probably do not have any real utility. Reports by you, does Artificial Intelligence (AI) have a role in the Web 3.0 space?
BC: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is interesting but on the Web 3.0 front it doesn’t interest me at all. People appear to forget that Web 3.0 is just a buzzword rooted in the original intention to completely overhaul the world’s financial system and move towards a fairer form of money. It’s much less about gaming or meeting in virtual cybercafes and interacting with AI-powered NPCs. I’m focused very much on the empowerment of people in the physical world. Having stated that, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is highly interesting for its probability to optimize education, health care, business operations, logistics, creative work and more – but putting Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Web 3.0 together is another recipe for aimless hype.
BCN: The European Union has approved its cross-jurisdictional cryptocurrency regulation framework Markets in Cryptocurrency Assets regulation (MiCA) for release in 2024. Do you believe this path or that set by the likes of the UAE will prompt the United States to accelerates the rollout of their own cryptocurrency regulations?
BC: No. Unfortunately, the United States as of now suffers from as well numerous internal conflicts to even begin to provide any clarity at all. It’s good to see different countries around the globe take charge of their own future, and sooner or thereafter, when the United States as a whole does come around, it may be on fairer terms for all.