UAE unveils blockchain KYC for secured customer service

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (Dubai Economy) and one of the largest banks in the UAE, Emirates NBD has launched UAE KYC (Know-Your-Customer) Blockchain Platform, an initiative that facilitates secure digital customer onboarding, instant bank account functionality and sharing of verified KYC data between licensing authorities and financial institutions via advanced distributed blockchain technology.

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The initiative, which is powered by norbloc, a global leader in blockchain KYC technology,  was first announced in February 2020, is set to become a nationwide ecosystem for an exchange of verified KYC data.

The project is fully supported by Smart Dubai and the Central Bank of UAE who play a key regulatory role in the initiative. Meanwhile, the Commercial Bank of Dubai, ADCB, HSBC, and RAKBANK are also set to go live very soon.

Omar Bushahab
Omar Bushahab, CEO
Business Registration & Licencing (BRL)
Dubai Economy

“We are very proud to announce that the UAE KYC Blockchain Platform is now production-ready with over 120 companies already instantly onboarded by Emirates NBD with active and operational bank accounts. This is one of the initiatives that contribute to Agenda Number One of Dubai Model which focuses on improving customer experience. This marks a key milestone in establishing a UAE-wide ecosystem for KYC data sharing and instant digital onboarding of companies by financial institutions. It is in alignment with the government’s vision around digitization and paperless as crucial strategies that enable continuation and sustainability, especially during these challenging times, further enhancing the ease of doing business in the country.”

Bushahab added, “Emirates NBD is the first banking group to go live on the platform with its initial use case covering E20, its digital business bank. The next milestone will be the go-live of Emirates NBD’s additional use cases and of our remaining banking partners along with the official release of the Consortium Agreement that will govern the ecosystem and outline how data will be shared between Consortium Members. We are also in advanced discussions with a second wave of financial institutions and free zones to further expand the initiative, and we welcome the remaining financial institutions and free zones to join this effort.”

In the First Phase, Dubai Economy has migrated all active trade licenses onto the blockchain platform, representing over 40 percent of all active trade licenses in the UAE. In addition to receiving new leads to open bank accounts, participating financial institutions are now able to leverage the blockchain platform to seamlessly pull data of their customers and receive real-time updates made to customer data.

“The UAE is one of the first countries in the world to implement a country-wide, blockchain-based ecosystem for data sharing,” Astyanax Kanakakis, CEO of norbloc, said. “The commitment of Dubai Economy, leading financial institutions such as Emirates NBD, Dubai Government, and the UAE Government to this initiative demonstrates a proactive and ambitious mindset, and positions the UAE as one of the first countries taking significant measures towards creating a digital low touch economy with simplified processes ensuring that business can continue to thrive in the post-COVID environment.”

Mohammad Al Qaizi, Director of Information Technology in Dubai Economy, commented, “The launch of KYC Blockchain Platform, along with the Unified Business Registry (UBR) in Dubai, shows the blockchain ecosystem growing in line with the leadership’s vision and aspiration of improving the UAE’s global rankings, competitiveness and to build a seamlessly integrated paperless government framework. Companies can now choose to share their data, in real-time, with the financial institutions of their choice, thus significantly reducing time and cost.”