Bitcoin trading volumes in Saudi Arabia via peer-to-peer trading platform LocalBitcoins have never been higher. For the first time, trading volumes in the desert natoin topped USD $100k in bitcoin traded over a week through the decentralized platform.
According to data from Coin.Dance, trading volumes last week soared nearly 3x compared to the previous week, with over SAR400,000 in bitcoin traded during the week ending on April 15, a new all-time high. The figure is over 1.5x the previous ATH of SAR260,000. Last week’s record volume totals SAR409,998 traded in bitcoins, approximately $110,000.
While the numbers are relatively low compared to other countries, it is to be noted that Saudi Arabia gained its first prominent bitcoin exchange platform in late 2016 after Dubai-based BitOasis launched its wallet and exchange services in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Saudi Arabian users can exchange fiat money for bitcoin through BitOasis for a 1% fee.
The uptick in bitcoin trading also comes during a time when a number of Gulf economies are turning toward exploring and developing blockchain technology. Specifically, a number of Emirate states, led by Dubai, are fast-tracking plans toward sweeping implementations of blockchain technologies in a multitude of sectors including payment systems.
Earlier this month, the Dubai government signed a MoU with a blockchain technology firm to implement a citywide blockchain payments system that will encompass 38 government-partnering entities, financial institutions and departments. The emirate’s blockchain agenda is led by its ‘Dubai Blockchain Strategy’ initiative. Launched last year, the endeavor began with the significant announcement to transfer and maintain all government records on a blockchain by the year 2020. Dubai’s government has also partnered IBM to explore a blockchain trade finance platform to strengthen its position as a major trading hub in the world.
Neighboring Bahrain is looking at a ‘country level’ implementation and adoption of blockchain technologies, according to statements this year by the chief executive of its Economic Development Board, a government agency. To this end, Bahrain signed a FinTech pact with Singapore in March to establish a FinTech ecosystem as it seeks to become a hub for innovation in the region.
Elsewhere, Qatar’s biggest private bank recently completed a successful blockchain-based money transfer pilot with banks in the region and beyond, taking a cue from Abu Dhabi’s largest bank launching Ripple-powered cross-border payments in February this year.
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