Dubai-based OneGram is expanding into Malaysia, laying the foundations to establish a physical presence in the leading Islamic finance market in the second quarter as part of its global expansion plans, IFN can exclusively reveal.
The Islamic financial technology company, the issuer of gold-backed cryptocurrency OneGramCoin (OGC), has met with potential individual investors for its tokens in capital city Kuala Lumpur and will begin courting retailers to use its OGC-powered payment gateway by the end of the year.
“We want OneGram to reach the grassroot level and bring YalaPay to Malaysia,” Mohammed Ibrahim, the founder of OneGram and CEO of gold trading company GoldGuard, tells IFN; YalaPay is the company’s payment gateway. “We want to onboard merchants and have operations here to facilitate settlement. The idea is to create an ecosystem in every country we’re in and roll out digital retail solutions.”
Conducting its initial coin offering (ICO) in May 2017, the digital coins are now available for resale, and are scheduled to go live on OneGram’s proprietary digital currency exchange, currently awaiting license, in the next quarter.
Despite not being live, according to Ibrahim, OGC can already be used as a medium of exchange: in December, OneGram partnered with Dubai-based real estate developer MAG Lifestyle Development, allowing buyers to purchase MAG properties using OGC. The first property purchase using the cryptocurrency is expected to be concluded before the end of March, a regional first.
“OGC holders can also invest in a Shariah compliant hotel fund using OGC and we are in talks with InterContinental [Hotels & Resorts] to build a OneGram hotel in Ras Al Khaimah and Pakistan,” shared Ibrahim. The firm has been building its own blockchain and developing an e-wallet: it expects to roll out these new products within the next three months.
“Malaysia is an important market for us because it is the home of Islamic finance – it took us a while to get here because we wanted to build credibility first,” said Ibrahim who explained that the Southeast Asian nation was initially sceptical of digital currencies and ICOs, but attitude around the digital asset has shifted. Describing its first investor meeting in Malaysia a “success”, Ibrahim said: “The market is now ready and we have big plans for it.”
Like in most jurisdictions, Malaysian regulators do not recognize virtual currencies as legal tender and advises the public to undertake the necessary due diligence involved in dealing in digital currencies or with entities providing cryptocurrency-related services.