UAE welcomes new blockchain platform





Abu Dhabi-headquartered telecommunications company Etisalat has launched a blockchain-based platform desi…

Abu Dhabi-headquartered telecommunications company Etisalat has launched a blockchain-based platform designed to prevent fraud in relation to trade invoices.

Etisalat has engaged Linklaters to advise it on the compliance and contractual elements of launching a blockchain platform in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), UAE Trade Connect (UTC).

UTC, which leverages distributed ledger technology (DLT), machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to examine documents related to trade transactions, namely trade invoices, is designed to help financial institutions overcome fraudulent activity.

Etisalat’s new blockchain-based platform is also designed to avoid the duplication of invoices and maintain data security, by forming a permanent record of transactions.

“This marks the start of our commercial operations in the blockchain space, and represents a unique solution to mitigate long-standing risks inherent to trade finance” said UTC’s CEO Zulqarnain Javaid in a statement.

UTC’s fraud detection offering is currently only in relation to trade invoices, although there are future plans to expand the platform’s capabilities to deal with letters of credit, bills of lading, and various other documents which will require buy-in from shipping companies and ports, as well as customs authorities and governments.

The new platform has attracted participation from a number of large banks in the UAE which also make up UTC’s advisory group, alongside government agency Central Bank of the UAE.

Linklaters employed a multi-disciplinary practice to advise Etisalat on the launch, including technology, media and telecoms (TMT) partner and Asia head of TMT Adrian Fisher, who said: “Blockchain and disruptive technologies such as AI and machine learning continue to pave the way for trade finance transformation and security. The roll-out of UTC represents a significant step forward in driving a more robust digital economy in the UAE.”

Singapore TMT managing associate Clare Harris and TMT legal assistant in Hong Kong, Eunice Lee, advised alongside Fisher. Assistance was also provided by Abu Dhabi-based corporate partner Nicholas Edwards, and Dubai-based counsel Reem Al Sayegh.

Edwards noted: “The establishment of UTC represents a milestone in the financial sector in the UAE, demonstrating the region’s commitment to adopting innovative technological solutions to increase efficiency and enable future economic growth.”

British cryptocurrency miner Argo Blockchain increased its revenue by 23% in November last year.