UNLOCK recently interviewed the management team of GRIP Investments. GRIP Investments a Private Investment Company is launching the world’s first single route gateway to investing into the GCC with its licensed and regulated operating arm – GRIP (DIFC) Ltd.
GRIP (DIFC) Ltd. as the name suggests is established within the Dubai International Financial Centre and has been awarded a license by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) to function as an advisory firm focused upon Investment Banking, Wealth Management and Tech Advisory services.
The in-house combination of investment, compliance and tech capabilities mean GRIP DIFC is also able to be one of the first regulated companies to provide advisory across wealth management and capital markets, including securities issued via blockchain technologies.
According to V.Gowribalan, Co-Founder and CEO speaking to UNLOCK , “We are very proud of the fact that we are the first within the DIFC to have both investment and tech capabilities in-house paving the way for GRIP to be a FinTech focused Investment Bank. Under our license GRIP DIFC as an advisory firm will be able to arrange deals in investments, advise on financial products, arrange credit, advise on credit and arrange custody.” He adds, “Utilizing the above, the focus is to conduct Investment and Tech advisory to enable private companies to issue shares and debt securities, conventionally or on a blockchain to widen both their investor base and secondary market price discovery, ease transferability of securities, a process which will get even easier with the advent of secondary marketplaces such as digital asset exchanges”.
The GRIP eco-system also enables investors to access GCC/MENA based private companies, advise on the best technology route/practices to achieve the issuance goals, in addition to advising on Technology protocols, security and compliance aspects of securities business.
Gowribalan is also pleased to have chosen DIFC as the headquarters for GRIP. He explains, “DIFC was our first choice and if we had to do it again would remain our only choice. DIFC is ranked number eight globally in terms of financial centres, and there are more than 2500 firms currently operating in DIFC. In addition, the UAE is at the centre of trade between Asia, Africa and the rest of the world so we are literally in the heart of the business corridors between East and West.”
GRIP is unique in the sense that it is a one stop ecosystem for receiving advisory on investment as well as an investment gateway. This dual focus is bolstered by the experience of having built a technology platform on the Stellar blockchain that will allow for the ownership GRIP’s own shares to be digitised.
Niccolò Della Bona, Chief Technology Officer, GRIP DIFC, “While we were developing our own tokenized portfolio ownership system for GRIP Investments, we gained much insight into the various blockchain platforms available, which ones are best suited for which digital security offerings, as well as how to implement these platforms. We chose Stellar for reasons that suit our own offering because of its, permissioned nature, allowing us to have server side controls, its ability to transfer assets in seconds, its compliance with security regulations as well as well as our ability to freeze tokens instantly in case we need to. While our platform is built on Stellar for the trade of our Digital Security we are ready to assist in advising companies on blockchain platforms best suited for them, taking a chain-agnostic approach to the advisory side of the business, it all depends on the business case and requirements”
The long term vision of GRIP, through the investment company and the DIFC advisory company is to create a gateway for investors to invest into the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council Countries), provide Wealth Management services and overall establishing a two-way corridor for capital, to enable global businesses to conduct capital market transactions in the GCC by providing Investment Banking services.
As Gowri explains, “While many global investors are aware of investment opportunities in real estate, oil and gas, as well as the financial sector, there are other lucrative sectors in the GCC that are well worth investing into such as logistics, tourism, trade, technology and education.
However, these other sectors, many of which are not readily investable through listed instruments, impinge investors with impediments causing friction when trying to include them into their regional portfolio.
Therefore, GRIP Investments single route to owning a diversified portfolio representing the key economic drivers, including un-listed, illiquid and private assets is an innovative answer to this accessibility problem.
Similarly, by assisting companies to offer their equity or debt across capital markets, including via digital securities in a regulated environment will open up more investments in a multitude of sectors not available or under exposed.”
Digital Securities will enable illiquid traditional assets to be traded on secondary markets enabling potential liquidity and price discovery.
Gowri adds, “We are a new-breed of investment companies that has both investment as well as technological capabilities in its core DNA. We built our technology platform from the ground up in-house allowing investors globally to participate in the capital raise, so we can assist private companies eligible to raise capital to leverage the same opportunity of doing so using blockchain technologies in compliance with global securities’ regulations.”
As for clients, Gowri states, “We already have clients in the pipeline and have 5-6 mandates ranging for tokenizing ownership and issuance of securities of both equity and debt securities across multiple sectors, advisory mandate to secure financing from the loan capital markets and restructuring a family office portfolio.”
GRIP is headquartered in Liberty House, DIFC and can be reached via many of their channels, and regularly hosts investor events and roundtable discussions on the GCC financial landscape. Gowri, has been a speaker at Unlock events and we look forward to reporting on their growth trajectory.