According to announcements by local news media outlets, the local government in Dubai has officially launched its own encrypted blockchain-powered digital currency called emCash. The cryptocurrency would be used for payment of governmental and nongovernmental services.
The digital currency will be developed with a partnership between Emcredit, a subsidiary of Dubai Economy and UK-based blockchain startup Object Tech. Dubai Economy is the government body responsible to plan and implement the economic agenda of the emirate of Dubai.
An announcement adds that the digital currency will be based on blockchain technology that will see UAE residents use the digital currency via an emPay wallet app on their smartphones. The blockchain deployed ‘allows for shared ledgers so that control over payments is not limited to any single member in the emPay ecosystem and transactions are recorded instantaneously,” explained Emcredit Ltd CEO Muna Al Qassab.
“emPay allows UAE residents to make varied payments, from their daily coffee and children’s school fee to utility charges and money transfers, through the near field communication (NFC) option in their phones,’ Dubai Economy explained. ‘With emCash, emPay users will have the option of a secure digital currency, and merchants receive such payments in real time without going through intermediaries”
According to Ali Ibrahim, Deputy Director General of Dubai Economy, the token will be considered legal tender for various government and non-government services.
The flexibility and convenience of cryptocurrencies makes the solution a win-win for Dubai. The government is strongly pro-Blockchain and sees it as the next major wave of paradigm changing technologies, and wants to be forward-thinking in adoption. According to Ibrahim:
“The fast-paced environment and incredible willingness to adopt innovative technology has made Dubai the perfect place for us to do business. This project is a great example of the ambition we have met here, together we are essentially creating a whole new economic ecosystem. It will harness Blockchain technology to make financial transactions cheaper, faster and more secure while demonstrating the huge advantages of embracing this technology for governments, business and customers alike.”
Dubai embracing Blockchain technology
The government of Dubai has already partnered UK-based Object Tech for the notable endeavor of developing digital passports for travelers visiting Dubai, using blockchain technology. The wider remit by the government sees a number of similar efforts taking shape for Dubai to become the world’s first blockchain city. Indeed, the government’s ‘Blockchain Strategy’ initiative will see, among other efforts, the transfer of all government documents onto a blockchain by the year 2020.
Earlier this year, the Smart Dubai Office – a government-backed initiative led by the Crown Prince of Dubai – partnered a FInTech firm toward the development of a citywide blockchain payments system. This particular effort will see all of the existing 38 partner government entities, financial institutions and other city departments connected over a blockchain payments platform.
The new cryptocurrency will move the country’s adoption paradigm forward.