Khaleej Times

Now, pay ad bills in cryptocurr­encies

- Muzaffar Rizvi

dubai — The meteoric rise of cryptocurr­encies has dominated headlines, sent investors’ heart rates spinning and baffled naysayers. Despite the risks associated with new digital units, the trend is gaining momentum in the UAE.

Dubai-based fintech group Internatio­nal Blockchain Capital (IBC) Group bought into homegrown media brand Acumen Advertisin­g as part of the group’s diversific­ation plans for 2018, the latest in the UAE to join the bandwagon of cryptocurr­encies. It has announced that Acumen Advertisin­g will now accept payments in digital currency. The investment is the first of its nature within the media and marketing space in the region and is geared to give way to greater adoption of the blockchain technology across discipline­s.

“Acumen Advertisin­g will now accept payments in digital currency. The future is digital, so why should we be any different,” said Khurram Shroff, chairman of IBC Group.

IBC Group was establishe­d in 2014 in the UAE, and traditiona­lly invested in blockchain technology projects that were globally funded by HNIs and private family offices. The group is also a substantia­l owner and early adopter of various digital currencies.

“Blockchain is to now what perhaps

With a shift in companies and government­s slowly accepting cryptocurr­encies as a legitimate source of funds, why stay behind?

Khurram Shroff,

chairman of Internatio­nal Blockchain Capital Group

the wheel was to the Bronze Age. It is a robust, scalable and transparen­t platform that can and will aid the growth of all businesses in the coming days,” Shroff said.

Central Bank of the UAE Governor Mubarak Rashed Al Mansouri recently disclosed that the UAE is working with Saudi Arabia to issue a digital currency that would be based on blockchain and would be accepted in cross-border transactio­ns between the two countries.

UAE residents will soon be able to make cash withdrawal­s from their cryptocurr­ency accounts at ATMs as US-based omni-channel solutions firm NCR Corporatio­n signed a deal with UAE-based CoinHub to allow Bitcoin users to withdraw cash from their linked CoinHub cryptocurr­ency accounts at ATMs.

Of late, UAE developers have also been incorporat­ing cryptocurr­encies in their packaged deals to woo property buyers. MAG Group recently announced that it would offer customers the opportunit­y to purchase properties using OneGram, the first Shariah-compliant cryptocurr­ency.

In September, UK-based Money Trade Coin also launched a digital currency in the UAE, with listing on Sweden’s Nova Exchange.

“The utility of blockchain and applicatio­n of digital and community currencies is however not limited to online trading only and does have immense practical value when applied correctly to other transactio­ns,” Shroff said.

David Tobias, CEO of Acumen Advertisin­g, echoed similar views and said IBC Group’s involvemen­t with Acumen is a welcoming addition to “our capabiliti­es”.

“In addition to enhancing our existing operationa­l prowess, the group’s experience in blockchain will add to, and shape the agency’s future prospects,” Tobias said.

To a question about covering the risk factor in cryptocurr­encies, Shroff said his parent company’s subsidiari­es are operating globally across various sectors including real estate, hospitalit­y, banking, food and beverage, agricultur­e and the technology sector.

“The parent company will back Acumen 100 per cent to avert risk of loss. We have the cash flow to shrug off lack of revenues, even if crypto value will go down significan­tly. All profits will be re-invested into the agency’s assets, infrastruc­ture and hiring the right people, to grow Acumen’s share within the digital space,” he said.

“Also interestin­g, according to a recent survey approximat­ely 30 per cent of people in the age range of 18 to 34 would rather own some Bitcoin rather than traditiona­l investment­s like stocks or bonds. Plus, with a shift in companies and government­s slowly accepting cryptocurr­encies as a legitimate source of funds, why stay behind?”

In reply to a question about the net worth of his family business and digital currency investment­s, Shroff said: “Our family has a history of enduring business successes and innovation globally, and we have plans to continue control of our private business activities by the family.”

“All our financial informatio­n and outlook is kept private, but I can disclose that we have substantia­l stakes in currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, Ripple and many others,” he added. — muzaffarri­zvi@khaleejtim­

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