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The Dubai Ministry of Finance (MoF) will co-organize a Fintech seminar with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the upcoming World Government Summit. Chief among the topics to be discussed are virtual currencies and the applications of blockchain technology and the wider Fintech services space.

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The Fintech seminar will see notable keynote speakers such as IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, who will also commence the seminar with a speech; Pierre Gramegna, the bitcoin-friendly Minister of Finance in Luxembourg and; Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs in the Emirate.

In quotes reported by regional financial publication CPI, Al Tayer revealed:

The seminar will cover a number of important topics including virtual currencies, and the underlying distributed ledgers through blockchain technology. These topics have been at the center of recent debates about how digital innovation changes financial fields.

Further, the seminar will see discussion of the opportunities and challenges posed by Fintech services, according to the official. The need to avoid of “over-regulation” that could stifle innovation will also be discussed, as well finding the right balance between risk treatment and the potential misuse of technology, Al Tayer added.


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Peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding and high-frequency trading in markets are all underlined as new features and offerings brought forward by Fintech innovation, which the official sees to drive effective change in financial services.

A number of other international officials, experts in government finance and other fields will also participate in the seminar, to be held on the second day of the 5th World Government Summit that takes place from February 12 to 14, 2017 in Dubai.

Blockchain Skeptics and Proponents

It’s notable that two out of the three keynote speakers have been complimentary and even embracing toward the bitcoin- and blockchain-based services.

Pierre Gramegna, finance minister at Luxembourg famously signed and granted a license allowing Bitstamp to become the first fully-licensed bitcoin exchange to operate in Europe. Granted in April 2016, the occasion marked the first time that a bitcoin exchange became a fully regulated payment institution by any authority’s measure, anywhere in the world.

“I believe this announcement marks a milestone for bitcoin and digital finance in Europe” stated Gramegna at the time.

Conversely, IMF director Lagarde has previously questioned the effective ‘threat’ posed by Fintech innovation such as bitcoin and blockchain technology, toward the banking industry.

“I think the banking industry has quite a few days ahead of it” Lagarde said in late 2015 while addressing bankers at an industry conference in New York. The official poured scorn on the potential for disruption presented specifically by bitcoin and blockchain.

Fintech Hub

Meanwhile, a number of recent developments and concentrated efforts by the government has seen Dubai make its mark as a hub for Fintech development, discussion and even sweeping implementation of blockchain technology.

The Dubai government is pressing ahead with a sweeping blockchain project.

In November 2016, Dubai’s official authority for an integrated legal system held a workshop to discuss present and future policies and frameworks surrounding bitcoin, with an official citing the “urgent need to spread awareness about ‘bitcoin’”.

The government of Dubai has also set to task its unprecedented plan to see all of its documents and transactions on a blockchain by the year 2020.

Spurred on by the government’s agenda, other private industry efforts in Dubai have also seen blockchain applications in rewards platforms and healthcare.

Images from Shutterstock.

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