Ex-SoftBank executive sets up UAE stablecoin

In a significant move within the cryptocurrency landscape, Akshay Naheta, a former executive at SoftBank Group, is venturing into stablecoin technology from Abu Dhabi. Naheta, aged 42, has established DTR in the emirate’s international financial free zone, collaborating with Hong Kong-based DRAM Trust, an entity associated with numerous high-net-worth individuals. Their joint venture aims to tap into the stablecoin market, a sector anticipated to surge dramatically, reaching an estimated $2.8 trillion in five years, as predicted by analysts at Bernstein.

What sets this initiative apart is the nature of the stablecoin being introduced. Unlike the majority of cryptocurrencies, which are pegged to the US dollar, Naheta’s DRAM coins will be backed by the United Arab Emirates dirham. This distinctive approach offers increased stability, especially for individuals residing in high-inflation countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Pakistan. Moreover, it presents an alternative to the SWIFT system, a significant development for international transactions.

Naheta emphasized the project’s focus on the unbanked and underbanked populations in these nations, highlighting the opportunity for diversification of risk and the appeal of a currency complementary to the dollar. He envisions a substantial influx of funds into this innovative stablecoin, especially from individuals seeking a reliable financial alternative.

Having previously worked at Deutsche Bank AG and playing a pivotal role in SoftBank’s major deals, Naheta’s expertise positions him uniquely within this venture. He was instrumental in significant transactions, including the sale of chip designer Arm to Nvidia Corp, and led a $4 billion investment in Nvidia in 2017, resulting in substantial profits.

Since leaving SoftBank last year, Naheta has been actively engaged in various fintech projects, with the UAE serving as his primary base of operations. Stablecoins, crypto tokens pegged to assets like the dollar, have been in existence for nearly a decade. While they’ve found use among traders for moving digital assets, their integration into consumer payments has been limited. Currently, approximately $124 billion worth of stablecoins are in circulation, with Tether Holdings’ USDT being the most prominent among them, according to CoinGecko.

DRAM coins are expected to be accessible on decentralized exchanges such as Uniswap, Sushiswap, and Pancakeswap, with plans to collaborate with centralized exchanges in the near future. Naheta anticipates the stablecoin to gain significant traction in the UAE, a country with a sizable expatriate population and proximity to several high-inflation nations in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Furthermore, Naheta expressed his optimism about the UAE’s growing prominence in the global financial landscape. He views the dirham as a potential major player, citing the nation’s geopolitical neutrality, excellent transportation infrastructure, and status as a leading tourism destination. As the project unfolds, it holds the promise of reshaping the financial dynamics not only within the UAE but also across regions grappling with economic uncertainties.

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