Dubai has officially launched its own cryptocurrency named emCash, according to the state news agency.
The government partnered with Emcredit, a subsidiary of the government-backed development agency Dubai Economy, and the UK-based Object Tech, to establish contactless payment.
That makes Dubai the first government to launch its own state cryptocurrency. Other nations are considering a similar move.
The cryptocurrency will be considered legal tender for payment of services, “from coffee and children’s school fees to utility charges and money transfers”, according to Ali Ibrahim, deputy director general of Dubai Economy.
Based on the blockchain technology, the digital token, emCash, will be available to citizens of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It can be used via an emPay wallet App, allowing users to make payments through the near field communication (NFC) option on their smartphones.
Merchants can receive payments in real time without going through intermediaries and transactions are recorded instantaneously in the emPay ecosystem.
“It will mark a giant leap for the city in harnessing game-changing innovations to improve the ease of business and quality of life,” said Ibrahim, adding that emCash would reinforce Dubai’s competitiveness as a business destination and accelerate its evolution into a smart economy.
Dubai is one of the most progressive nations in the world of digital currencies and blockchain technology.
Last month, the government signed deals which allow Bitcoin payments to be made in property sales, allowing real estate company Aston Plaza Crypto to partner with BitPay to sell property for Bitcoin in Dubai’s Science Park.
In August, the Dubai Financial Services Authority signed an agreement with the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong to establish a framework of cooperation on financial technology innovation.
According to the Blockchain Strategy Initiative announced last year, Dubai aims to be the first blockchain-powered government in the world by 2020. Transfer of all government’s documents will be on a blockchain by that year.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 4
Translation by Ben Ng with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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