As digital transformation becomes even more crucial for the survival of organisations and their ability to adapt to the new normal post-COVID-19, more investments in blockchain may present an opportunity to enhance the UAE’s and the global existing financial infrastructure. Moreover, it is critical to continuously assess the emerging technology landscape to identify novel opportunities for economic and social advancement, a joint report by Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) and the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR UAE), in partnership with innovation consulting and advisory firm Accelliance, has revealed.
Launched today, the report titled ‘Tokenisation and Digital Assets: A Transformative Approach Towards Investments’ examines how the transfer of ‘real-world’ assets to blockchain (Tokenisation) in the UAE can boost the accessibility, security, transparency, and efficiency of capital markets as the country continues to leverage emerging technology solutions. The document also addresses the implications across industries, opportunities, and challenges, as well as the actions the UAE should take.
The publication aims to increase awareness about the importance of financial inclusion and strengthen overall safety nets in the country through blockchain mechanisms – Tokenisation and digital assets.
Mariam Al Muhairi, Project Manager, World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution UAE, said: “The UAE has been able to resolve some of the main challenges thanks to the government’s key role in embracing emerging technologies and emphasising the value of innovation in advancing society. The new report is a testament to DFF’s efforts to become a testbed for innovative solutions that drive digital transformation in vital sectors, such as the financial market.”
she added: “The world is witnessing a jump in productivity and efficiency powered by digital technologies, and DFF is instrumental in helping UAE government and private sector entities across diverse domains boost their performance.”
C4IR UAE conducted a survey of over 100 industry stakeholders across start-ups, digital asset service providers and community, government entities, and regulators to understand the current ecosystem and appetite for digital assets in the UAE. In addition, the Centre held over 25 in-depth interviews with key stakeholders across various governmental, regulatory, operational, technical, and strategic roles to understand how digital assets could impact existing market infrastructure and regulatory policies, and the role these stakeholders play in overseeing and managing the development of digital asset ecosystems.
The respondents expressed confidence in the near-term maturity of regulatory guidance and ecosystem for digital assets in the UAE – 81 percent expect to see established regulations within two years, and 78 percent believe that with the right conditions, initial mainstream adoption could be reached within four years.
When asked about the impact of digital assets across industries, survey and interview respondents cited financial services (88 percent of respondents) and real estate (68 percent of respondents) as the two areas that have the highest potential to be impacted by Tokenisation.
Furthermore, findings from the report showed that for such an ambitious venture to create a significant tangible impact, it can only be accomplished through concerted efforts, requiring close collaboration between regulators and regulated entities.
While C4IR UAE identified several remaining obstacles and prevailing risks to mainstream adoption, Tokenisation may enable the UAE to enhance its existing financial infrastructure. It may also, in turn, create new opportunities to consolidate the country’s position as a hub in areas such as capital market issuance, secondary markets for digital assets, and digital asset custodial services.
Following the launch of the Dubai Blockchain Strategy in 2016 and the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021 in 2018, the UAE government has taken active steps to advance the technology nationwide through creating a blockchain industry, driving public sector adoption, and stepping up international collaboration with interested stakeholders. Since then, the country has hosted multiple blockchain implementation workshops, conferences, and other events.