Dubai's OneGram launches Sharia-compliant digital currency

Each OneGram unit is backed by physical gold stored in a vault

FILE - In this April 3, 2013 photo, Mike Caldwell, a 35-year-old software engineer, holds a 25 Bitcoin token at his shop in Sandy, Utah. Bitcoin is an online currency that allows people to make one-to-one transactions, buy goods and services and exchange money across borders without involving banks, credit card issuers or other third parties. Thailand’s cabinet has agreed to draft a law to regulate cryptocurrency trading, seeking to tax the largely unregulated market. Government spokesman Nathporn Chatusripitak said Tuesday the Ministry of Finance also proposed the new regulations to help prevent use of digital currencies in money laundering and fraud. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
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Dubai-based OneGram Group has listed a cryptocurrency it bills as Sharia-compliant on the company's virtual exchange and is planning additional listings in coming months, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Each OneGram unit is backed by physical gold stored in a vault, a feature that aims to address speculation and price volatility.

The tokens are now paired for trading against Bitcoin, and the company plans to add pairings to several hard currencies, chief executive Ibrahim Mohammed said. The coins are listed on the firm's exchange, known as Huulk, and future listings would focus on regional exchanges in Asia and the Middle East, he added.


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OneGram has sold around $400 million worth of its gold-backed tokens over the past year, part of a growing number of fintech firms entering the field of Islamic finance.

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum enjoyed a bumper year in 2017, but they saw a sharp drop in value this year partly due to concerns over a regulatory crackdown. Such volatility has led some regulators to view cryptocurrencies with caution.