Ola Doudin, a female Jordanian entrepreneur, has launched a bitcoin wallet and exchange, BitOasis, in Dubai, after having difficulty finding any place to buy bitcoin in the region, according to The National Business in the United Arab Emirates.
BitOasis plans to be the first bitcoin company in the Middle Eastern and North Africa (MENA) region to be registered in a major technology center in the region, according to its website.
The wallet service is available in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Users in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain can also use the exchange service by sending money to a BitOasis bank account and exchange it for bitcoins for a 1% fee. BitOasis offers users multi-signature wallet security, according to its website.
A Niche In The Middle East
Doudin moved back to Jordan after leaving her job in London’s finance industry following the 2008 global financial crash. She moved back to Jordan just as the Arab Spring uprisings were sweeping the region. In 2013, she read about bitcoin and became intrigued.
She spent months reading about digital currency on Reddit and in scientific journals and began connecting with bitcoin enthusiasts on Twitter.
Bitcoin Was Elusive
However, she could not find anyone to buy bitcoin from in Jordan, Lebanon or the UAE. She ended up buying bitcoin from a connection she made in Canada. She bought the bitcoin by sending the Canadian source money via PayPal.
Doudin believed that bitcoin represented the future of banking and financial services. She believed it changes how Visa and SWIFT can function, and even the very concept of currency.
She joined Bitcoin meetup groups in Dubai and Amman. She met Daniel Robenek, a Czech software engineer, who worked with her on a platform to allow Middle Eastern users to safely buy and store bitcoins.
BitOasis launched in Dubai in late 2014. It secured seed funding from Wamda Capital and others in 2015.
Doudin said there is a large bitcoin user base in Egypt and Morocco. Users in those countries pay small amounts of money on a frequent basis for cloud services, virtual private networks and gaming. Such payments can be prohibitively expensive via credit card or bank transfer. With bitcoin, such payments can cost only 10 or 20 U.S. cents in fees to miners.
The Gulf’s expatriate communities use bitcoin to top up phone credit for their families back home and to pay bills. Wealthier users buy bitcoin to diversify their investment portfolios.
Doudin compared bitcoin’s creation to the World Wide Web, noting that it opens up new markets and business models. She said the next PayPals and Venmos are going to be built on bitcoin.
Images from Shutterstock and BitOasis.