Unleashing the power of blockchain
Mohammed Alsehli, founder and CEO of ArabianChain Technology.
The success of Mohammed Alsehli, founder and CEO of ArabianChain Technology, has proved that when you believe in your idea and have the courage to pursue your dream, nothing can stop you.
Alsehli began working on his idea of blockchain in 2011. He endured rejection from banks, who initially, did not believe in his idea, but that just motivated him to turn his plan into a successful venture.
"I did a lot of research and studies in technology management and realised that blockchain is the future of banking technology. It has the potential to completely change the face of the banking industry, as we know it, by enabling the senders and beneficiaries to connect directly. This realisation strengthened my conviction in the technology even more," Alsehli recalls.
The ArabianChain team officially came together in Dubai Silicon Oasis in February 2017. Operations went live and DBIX, a local cryptocurrency to enable secure payments and money transfer, started trading in the market in April. ArabianChain is the first company in the region to develop a public and decentralised platform for smart contracts on blockchain.
"This enables governments, businesses and individuals to use the ArabianChain tools and languages and build their transactions and contracts on our platform, for whatever transaction they may be recording," he explains.
He says the fact that Dubai already had a clear vision for its blockchain strategy and has already started dealing in cryptocurrency was a huge motivator to form the startup in the UAE.
"In fact, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, launched the Dubai Blockchain Strategy to achieve a high degree of efficiency in government departments and aims for the government to become paperless by shifting all transactions to blockchain. Initiatives like this one prove that this technology is more of the reality than a 'hype'. There is enough evidence surrounding blockchain technology to encourage VCs to consider blockchain startups as an investment opportunity in the UAE," Alsehli says.
A Smart Dubai statement about the initiative says: "Adopting blockchain technology Dubai stands to unlock Dh5.5 billion in savings annually in document processing alone."
"We understand the government's visions and needs of the ever-changing market and work towards providing advanced technological tools to achieve these results. Our long-term aim is to establish ArabianChain as a pioneer in the regional blockchain market, providing customers with the technological support they need," Alsehli says.
Alsehli is optimistic about ArabianChain's growth in the Mena region. ArabianChain currently has its operations in the UAE Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
"We are planning on expanding into the wider region as a market leader, before moving on globally," he claims.
During its latest funding round in July, ArabianChain managed to raise Dh3 million in capital. Eng Ahmed Abdullah Bugshan, board member at the Arabian Bugshan Group and vice-president of House of Invention Intl. led the round.
Bugshan says that the region, particularly the Gulf, is moving strategically towards technology-enabled economies and this is impacting business and transactions across the government and private sector.
"I believe that the region will lead the way when it comes to blockchain, and ArabianChain is well-positioned to drive innovation and adoption of this disruptive technology," he says.
Disclosing about the future strategy and expansion plans Alsehli says the blockchain firm now focusing on launching its digital asset-trading platform in the coming months.
"For the long term, our goal is to ensure a smooth transition of Islamic banking solutions and government services to blockchain. By launching this platform, we aim to offer users a reliable experience and eliminate the monopoly in the market, increasing competition and supporting innovation," he elaborates. He also says that he may go for another round for fund-raising for further expansion.
"This would happen after the revenue phase begins. ArabianChain has only begun its journey in April 2017, with a long way to go. Our digital assets trading platform called Palmex will be released in October, post which we will prepare for another round of funding," he discloses.
"In October, we hope to release Thuraya, which will be the first smart contract programming language in Arabic. We are also optimistic about having Islamic banking on blockchain by June 2018," Alsehli says.
He also discloses that initially, he was planning to list the company in the UAE bourse.
"However, before that, we want to register the company in the mainland as at present it is registered in a free zone. Perhaps, subsequently, we will pursue another round or two of funding. Irrespective, listing the company in the UAE is a part of our big plan," he says.
Alsehli believes that the economic environment in the Middle East is very conducive to boost and nurture the startup culture.
"This is not only because of the advancement in technology, but also because the flourishing economic landscape that has unlocked numerous revenue opportunities," he says.
He claims that in the next five years, ArabianChain to lead blockchain innovation in the Mena region. "We also aim to maintain an impress list of clients and evolve as a multi-billion company," he concludes.