Blockchain Hajj: Crypto regulation “must be combined with education,” says Wadzpay’s chief executive

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The collapse of Do Kwon Terra’s empire in May, and Sam Bankman Fried’s FTX in early November 2022, will be remembered as two incidents that put the crypto industry on the back burner. It is now widely expected that regulators around the world will use the two incidents to justify the creation of regulatory regimes that are likely to stifle further innovation. Despite this, Singapore-based blockchain payments company Wadzpay has partnered with Saudi fintech company Geidea to provide financial solutions to pilgrims on their way to Mecca.

Providing a cutting-edge payment experience for visitors
In the face of the inevitable, some players in the crypto industry maintain that stricter regulations will not stop crypto and its underlying technology – the blockchain. They point to the role of digital currencies in lowering the cost of transferring money within and outside national borders. According to this view, the ease and speed of moving money across borders is another key feature that makes cryptocurrencies and blockchains an indispensable part of modern payment systems.

It is these and other attributes of digital currencies that maintain their appeal even as regulators look to pounce, and some crypto companies look to find or expand into new markets and niches.

For example, Wadzpay, a Singapore-based company that operates a blockchain-based payments ecosystem, has partnered with Saudi fintech company Geidea to provide an “evolving payments experience” for pilgrims traveling to Mecca. Khaled Maharem, Head of Wadzpay for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, explained how his company’s partnership with Geidea enables pilgrims to use electronic money wallets to better manage their expenses.

In addition to highlighting the impact of the two companies’ payments solutions, Moharem, a longtime financial expert, shared his views on topics ranging from the collapse of FTX to regulating the crypto industry.

It was recently announced that your organization is collaborating with Saudi Arabia-based financial technology company Geidea, to provide future pilgrims with what has been described as an advanced payments experience for visitors. Can you begin by explaining why and how your payment solution makes things easier for pilgrims?

Khaled Moharem: Thank you, yes, the partnership to support digital payments for pilgrims. In line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the partnership was established against the backdrop of the Saudi government’s target to host 30 million pilgrims and Umrah performers by 2030.

The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca is the world’s largest gathering, drawing some 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019 (according to Statista) before the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a global lockdown. According to Mastercard ‘s latest Global Destination Cities Index , Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, generated nearly $20 billion in tourism dollars in 2018.

Currently, pilgrims face high fees when making traditional payments or external withdrawals or need to carry cash, which is not suitable for a long hajj. The combination of Wadzpay and Geidea solutions seeks to provide these pilgrims with electronic money wallets to enable better expense management with payments supported through the security of the blockchain.

Our solution ensures that pilgrims can load their wallets in their home country and be able to fully enjoy the Hajj without having to worry about dealing with fiat. They will save on fees while enjoying a seamless payment experience.

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