- Emirates, one of the world’s largest airlines, has plans to incorporate “Bitcoin as a payment service.”
- The company has also hired NFT and metaverse experts to drive its digitization goals.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is making significant strides in its quest to digitize its economy and become a global crypto hub. The latest in this effort regards an announcement from Emirates, one of the world’s largest airlines.
According to local news outlets, the UAE flag carrier intends to add Bitcoin to its payments infrastructure. The firm’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Adel Ahmed Al-Redha, also said Emirates has hired new staff. The personnel are skilled in matters of the metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and will develop new applications to meet customer needs.
While at the Arabian Travel Market, the executive noted the different roles of the metaverse and NFTs:
With the metaverse, you will be able to transform your whole processes — whether it is in operation, training, sales on the website, or complete experience — into a metaverse type application, but more importantly making it interactive.
Emirates aligns itself with UAE’s digital economy goal
Al-Redha added that Emirates plans on best utilizing these tech aspects to attract an even wider customer base. Specifically, the company will employ blockchain for record-keeping, as it adds NFTs to its website for trading.
According to Chainalysis’ 2021 report, the UAE transacts roughly $25 billion in cryptocurrency every year. This metric ranks the Western Asian country third in its region. As of 2021, UAE was only surpassed by Lebanon ($26 billion), and Turkey ($132.4 billion). Emirates will soon be a significant contributor to these crypto transactions.
Moreover, the country has seen a huge influx of crypto-oriented businesses, especially in cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Ronit Ghose, the global head of fintech and digital at Citi attributed this to the nation’s accommodative regulatory approach:
One of the reasons we see an influx of entrepreneurs, builders, operators and developers coming into Abu Dhabi and Dubai … is because there is a sense of greater regulatory clarity at ADGM, in Dubai, and at a federal level.
Crypto payments adoption spikes
The announcement by Emirates comes despite the recent dip in the crypto market. At reporting time, however, crypto markets were exhibiting a slight recovery, with BTC trading at $30,743 after a 7.9 percent hike in the past day.
Other than Emirates, other major firms have also shown interest in enabling crypto payments for their products and services. Some of the latest to do so this month are New York’s fitness club Equinox, Japan’s SBI Motors, and the popular fashion brand Gucci. Speculation is high on Dogecoin’s (DOGE) addition as a currency for Twitter’s tipping jar following Elon Musk’s takeover.
On the not-so-bright side, Russia warmed up to Bitcoin payments for its oil and gas following harsh sanctions from the West.