Avanza Innovations behind huge blockchain Projects in the Gulf region

UNLOCK met with Chief Executive Officer of Avanza Innovations Mr. Waqas Mirza at Gitex technology week to discuss the blockchain scene in the MENA region. It was interesting to find how many blockchain projects Avanza are working on in the region and the entities implementing these projects.

The first project Avanza Innovations is working on is what Dubai Police are calling the “Lost passport Journey”. Dubai Police alongside Dubai Courts, Dubai prosecution as well as GDFRA (General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs) are developing this journey together. The journey will minimize the time needed to wait for a new passport from four days to one. As Mirza explains, “We have worked with Dubai Police and the other entities to develop a blockchain platform built on Hyperledger Fabric that will streamline the process of obtaining a new passport as well as notifying authorities of lost passport. Before a UAE resident had to first to Dubai Police to claim their passport is lost then go to GDFRA, then Dubai Prosecution, then Dubai Courts and finally to Dubai Police to get a certificate. Then the customer needed to apply for a new passport at their embassy before finally visiting the GDRFA to get a new residency permit. In the new service, the customer will get a lost passport certificate from police in one day, before heading to the embassy and GDRFA.”

According to Waqas the project will be live in January and will be used during Expo2020 as many visitors will be entering the country and passports might get lost in the process. The announcement was also made by Dubai Police announcing a Memorandum of Understanding signed to share data between these governmental bodies during Gitex.

The second project Avanza Innovations is developing is with Dubai Chamber DP World Silk Road project. Mirza explains, “This project is to develop a unified trade registration and export authorization of goods between Dubai Chamber, DP World, JAFZA Free Zone (Jabal Ali Free Zone), and Dubai Customs. Previously onboarding for each entity was carried out separately, however utilizing our blockchain KYC platform these onboarding will be unified to incorporate trade licenses, registration KYC for logistics, and authorization for export, in addition to Letters of Credit. This will decrease the number of documentation needed for certificate of origin, customs export declaration and others.” UNLOCK visited Dubai Chamber stand at Gitex and spoke to Mona Elwadi, Executive of Innovation Technology at Dubai Chamber who confirmed that the project was moving ahead and would streamline re-exportation of products from freezone areas. As she noted, “We are finished with phase 1 of the project with regards to blockchain platform, and we have utilized smart contracts, digital identity, and authentication of documents. The second phase will be to integrate this on a global level with other ports and custom authorities, as well as adding other free zones on board. Our aim is to have a totally paperless environment that saves not only time but effort and preserves trust through authentication on the blockchain with time stamped certificates.”

Mirza alludes to the fact that this project has similarities with UAE Trade Connect project that Etisalat and the UAE Banking community are working on, a project that Avanza is also involved with utilizing Hyperledger Fabric. 

Another Avanza blockchain project that is going live by end of October is the Paperless Property Rental journey. This project is being launched by a consortium of Smart Dubai Government, Dubai Land Department, WASL Properties, ENBD and GDRFA. Through this platform, Dubai Residents will be able to initiate a new tenancy contract or renew their existing tenancy contracts from their homes or offices without having to visit any government entity. This paperless journey will be initiated through UAE Pass, which is the national federal Digital ID for citizens and residents of UAE.

The UAE is not the only country in GCC that Avanza has projects in. Avanza is also working with Benefit Bahrain on their KYC enabled Blockchain platform for payments. Avanza using again Hyperledger Fabric will document all transactions and KYC information on the blockchain so that financial and non-financial institutions can utilize this information from BENEFIT whenever needed. In addition according to Mirza, the blockchain platform will also register all requests made by individuals to share KYC details with banks and non-banking entities to ensure GDPR compliance. He adds, “This is a huge project because it can be utilized by any organization that requires KYC information and we are proud to be working with BENEFIT on this project which is in its final testing phases.”

Finally Avanza is involved in a dozen plus production grade blockchain implementations across the region with tier 1 government entities and regulators. Some of these projects are not publicly disclosed by the entities as yet and will be formally announced when they go live; Mr. Mirza has requested unlock readers to stay tuned for more exciting blockchain news and projects in very near future

Lara Abdul Malak

Lara has been a journalist and writer in the technology field since her graduation from AUB majoring in political science. She has had career in corporation communications in the telecom sector and was part of the launch of first 3G network in the GCC and MENA region. Since her return to journalism she has been focused with passion on blockchain, tokenization, crypto focusing on the GCC and MENA region.

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