Mubadala Ventures invests in Abu Dhabi crypto exchange

MidChains expects to launch crypto asset exchange by end of this year

MidChains co-founders Basil Al Askari (left) and Mohamed Al Hashemi have secured backing from Mubadala Capital. Courtesy MidChains. 
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The venture capital arm of Mubadala Investment Company has taken a stake in MidChains, a company which recently gained approval from Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) regulators to operate a crypto asset exchange in the capital.

MidChains, a two-year old company offering digital asset exchange and custodian services, gained in-principal approval from ADGM’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority last month to set up and run a global crypto asset exchange and custodian service and has now become one of the first digital asset firms in the Middle East to gain funding from Mubadala. The sum invested was not disclosed.

“Given Mubadala’s reputation as a global investment company, this investment will provide us with a platform to scale up, including for retail and institutional clients,” said Basil Al Askari, co-founder and chief executive of MidChains.

The company, which is based in the new Hub71 accelerator in Abu Dhabi Global Markets, is looking to launch its platform by the end of this year, subject to regulatory approval. MidChains will target both retail and institutional investors in digital assets, and is one of a number of crypto asset exchanges to have received in-principal approval from ADGM’s regulatory body in recent months.

“We’re excited to be an early-stage investor in a company like MidChains which is both an Abu Dhabi-based company and one founded by two inspiring [UAE] nationals,” said Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures. “This is in-line with our investment strategy to find and nurture home-grown start-ups.”

Mubadala Ventures, which was set up in 2017, expects to grow its portfolio of assets to about $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) by 2021 as it deploys capital from its existing and new funds, including a UAE technology vehicle.

Mubadala Ventures oversees its parent company’s $15bn commitment to Japan’s $100bn SoftBank Vision Fund, which counts Apple, Qualcomm and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund as investors.

Mubadala Ventures also manages the $400 million Ventures Fund I targeting early stage US tech companies, a $200m fund-to-fund investment business with the aim to deploy $70m each year, and a $400m European fund due to launch in 2019.