Thinking about diving into the world of cryptocurrency trading? Well, look no further. Home-grown blockchain platform ArabianChain recently launched a new digital asset exchange: Palmex. We spoke to Founder and CEO Mohammed Alsehli to get some insights.
Tell us about ArabianChain and its offering.
ArabianChain Technology is a UAE-based venture that is unlocking the potential of tomorrow’s economy by enabling today’s blockchain innovation. ArabianChain is the first public, decentralised and consensus-driven blockchain in the MENA region. It allows for self-executing and globally accessible smart contracts and decentralised apps to be developed as well as for digital tokens to be transacted, tracked and safeguarded over a network of thousands of connected yet distributed devices.
We also offer DBIX, which is the fuel of ArabianChain and the first minable digital currency in the region. Galaxy wallet is the easiest way to store and transact DBIX and tokens on ArabianChain. DBIX Scan is our light explorer where all your transactions are posted and verified. ArabianChain APIs are the quickest way to integrate our blockchain with your business. ArabianChain Studio offers easy to use environment for developing smart contracts. And of course, Palmex is among the first digital assets exchanges in the MENA region.
What motivated you to launch Palmex? How does it work?
The motivation came from the realisation that the market has started recognising cryptocurrencies as an investment opportunity and there are not many companies or ventures that are providing access to people within the region to that market. So, we decided this is an opportunity to provide that gateway to and make that happen. At the moment, Palmex allows crypto to crypto trading; if you have purchased any coins before, you can deposit them in the system and exchange them for other coins. Soon enough we will enable Fiat currencies, which means you can deposit dollars or any other currency that we decide to have on the system and from there you can directly purchase any other cryptocurrencies.
Do you foresee rising demand for cryptocurrencies in the region?
Yes, we do. There is an increased awareness in the region and people are accepting cryptocurrencies as an alternative investment opportunity. The adoption of blockchain technology on a strategic level will impact the whole economy in the region and ultimately bolster the growth of cryptocurrencies.
What’s your take on the cryptocurrencies scene in the UAE?
Well, at the moment, it has been in the grey area still and is not completely regulated while it is not prohibited. So, cryptocurrencies are currently considered as commodities and regulators are working on setting up sandboxes to allow innovators shape these regulations in the future. From a demand point of view, the involvement of the community is quite high and there is high-level of awareness. People have a lot of knowledge of cryptocurrencies and their impact, and this is driving demand for it. Therefore, it becomes important for businesses like us and the regulators to meet this demand in a structured manner.
What excites you the most about blockchain?
The blockchain technology is not just a technology, it is a set of thoughts, ideas and philosophies that go together to make it revolutionary and potentially change the way an economy works. One other aspect is the realisation of the potential of blockchain and the added value that it can bring to businesses and services. Public and private sector entities are looking to leverage blockchain and that motivated us to become one of the first companies in the region to be innovating within this space.
Why do cryptocurrencies present such a massive opportunity?
This is for the first time in human history that we are able to transact value peer to peer, person to person or entity to entity, directly across nations instantly. This has never been there before, not even with the internet. Yes, we use the internet to send messages and information, but not the actual value and asset itself. Cryptocurrencies represent value in themselves and they carry their value over the network, that is its appeal to people, entities and governments. They can send their payments and transactions and do their exchanges on the spot directly without intermediary or a loss of value and the transfer of the value itself.
A lot of businesses are trying to find a way to benefit from the rising popularity of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. What advice would you like to give to companies looking to seize the opportunities of such technology?
There are two aspects to consider: investment and business. On the investment part, I do recommend that you invest for the long-term and diversify investments. More importantly, make sure you are investing an amount that is not more than you can afford to lose as it is considered to be a risky investment. On the business side, blockchain technology is the platform that made cryptocurrency possible and I would encourage every public and private sector institution that has use cases for this technology to experiment with it.
For instance, if you have multiple suppliers or have to deal with third-party companies; basically when you have processes that require the involvement of different countries and audiences, blockchain technology would be a great platform to apply smart contract and decentralised applications. This will give you the opportunity to be on the very edge of technology and will help in seizing a lot of opportunities, reducing the cost of production or operations massively and gaining new clients.
What are key considerations an amateur investor needs to bear in mind when investing in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?
For investors, there are multiple things. You have to do your research and diversify your investment. Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Focus on investing for the long-term especially if you are not familiar with the day to day trading mechanics. This is the simple advice I would have for any amateur investor.
Are we going to see further improvements in the regulatory framework to streamline the use of platforms such as yours?
Yes. There are already sandboxes put in place by many governments to experiment with the technology and to work with the innovators to regulate the best way possible to enable this innovation rather than hinder it so this a lot of work in progress now and I think 2018 will be the year when most of these things are going to be put in place and we will have a better and more transparent framework to allow innovators to innovate in this space.
There has been an ongoing debate regarding the prices of cryptocurrencies, particularly bitcoin, where do you see prices headed over the next few months?
With regards to prices, usually, we prefer not to speculate on prices. However, if bitcoin is to replace gold as a store of value in the upcoming few months, then prices will be going higher. This is combined with the limited supply of 21 million bitcoins only and the increasing demand and the utility of companies and people accepting this coin as payment, we see that this will be pushing the prices to go even higher. From a simple study of the charts and the way the market has been behaving and presenting itself, you can assume that the bitcoin will be valued over the US$50-100K in the future. Of course, we do not have a specific date that we can speculate when this will happen but this is the indication that the market is giving.