After having trouble finding any place to buy bitcoin in the Middle East, Jordanian entrepreneur Ola Doudin has launched the bitcoin wallet and exchange BitOasis in Dubai. The company plans to be the first bitcoin company in the Middle Eastern and North Africa region to be registered in a major technology center in the region. The service is available in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Users in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain can also use the exchange service by sending money to a BitOasis bank account and then exchange it for bitcoins.
After the 2008 global financial crash, Doudin left her London finance job and returned to Jordan just as the Arab Spring uprisings were happening. She first read about bitcoin three years ago, spent months reading about it online and then started to connect with bitcoin enthusiasts on Twitter. However, she couldn’t find anybody to buy bitcoin from in Jordan, Lebanon or the UAE, although she ended up picking some up from a connection in Canada. Doudin believed that bitcoin represented the future of banking and financial services, and joined bitcoin meetup groups in Dubai and Amman. Through these she met Czech software engineer Daniel Robenek, who worked with her on a platform that would allow Middle Eastern users to safely buy and store bitcoins.
In late 2014, Doudin launched BitOasis, then secured seed funding the next year. There’s a large bitcoin user base in Egypt and Morocco, which has to frequently pay for cloud services, virtual private networks and gaming, fees that can get extremely expensive via credit card or bank transfer. Yet such payments can cost as low as 10 cents with bitcoin. The expat communities of the Gulf use bitcoin to top up phone credit for their families back home and pay bills, while wealthier users buy bitcoin to diversify their investment portfolios. Doudin has compared bitcoin’s creation to the birth of the World Wide Web, pointing out that it opens up new markets and business models.
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