Tuesday, October 26, 2021

UAE cryptocurrency exchange BitOasis raises $30m

The round comes months after BitOasis said that it was experiencing an unprecedented surge in interest.

Photo credit: ALYSSA WALKER / WIRED

WHEN SHE FOUNDED BitOasis in 2015, Ola Doudin was one of the earliest entrepreneurs in the UAE to tout the benefits of digital gold.

Six years later, the Jordanian entrepreneur’s bet seems to have paid off, as the global cryptocurrency ecosystem booms. BitOasis, which says it is the MENA region’s oldest cryptocurrency exchange, says that it has raised $30 million in a Series B round co-led by the Chicago-based Jump Capital and existing investor Wamda.

“The company perfectly embodies the elements we seek when investing in international crypto exchanges,” says Jump Capital’s Peter Johnson, a partner leading the firm’s crypto strategy, pointing to BitOasis’s market knowledge and regulatory compliance focus as examples.

Doudin called the round “a vote of confidence in the BitOasis growth story,” and says that the UAE-based BitOasis will be using the money to “expand our regional presence while ensuring high standards of regulatory compliance.” The company website states that it will also be using the funding to strengthen its products in the countries where it already operates.

BitOasis CEO Ola Doudin (WAMDA )

Every few years, the cryptocurrency industry surges in popularity, but this past year has shown its ecosystem creeping into mainstream finance. Silicon Valley’s Coinbase made a blockbuster debut on the public market this April, and currently boasts a market cap of over $50 billion. Traditional banks are helping investors put their money in cryptocurrency funds, and El Salvador even offered bitcoin as legal tender this September (although its reviews have so far been lackluster).

Over the past couple of years, Gulf countries (led by Bahrain) have started to warm to digital coins. That trend seems to have allowed the MENA cryptocurrency ecosystem to experience a similar boost in interest.

Back in May, Doudin said that sign-ups and transactions on BitOasis were growing at a rate that “we’ve never seen before.” BitOasis users grew by 400 percent in the first quarter of 2021, said Doudin, while transaction volumes in the first quarter had also surpassed the volume of trades conducted through 2020. At the time, Doudin said that she expected to see even more growth moving forward, thanks to the fact that BitOasis had gained gained regulatory approval from the Abu Dhabi Global Market in April.

Although a rise in cryptocurrency’s popularity has been accompanied by growing cases of fraud, BitOasis recently announced that it is helping the Dubai Police combat crypto fraud. A statement on the company website hints that it will soon announce more such partnerships and initiatives.

“Our team is also working on building strategic partnerships with the public sector to raise the level of awareness around crypto safety in the region,” says Doudin in a statement. “We look forward to sharing more details of our upcoming initiatives very soon.”

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