BitOasis launches Middle East’s first digital wallet

BitOasis, the Middle East’s first bitcoin wallet and exchange service, launched their beta buying software this month. According to cofounder Ola Doudin, the service aims to revolutionize digital transactions through a simple and secure system that is easy to use.

“What we are aiming for is to make bitcoin more usable so we can start attracting the second generation of bitcoin users,” she said. “Once consumers understand the privacy act of bitcoin they will actually use it instead of storing it as a digital asset.”

According to the World Bank, as little as 20 percent of the adult population in the MENA region have access to bank accounts for basic financial services. Up to 85 percent of online purchases are paid through a cash-on-delivery system. Those that do accept online payments often charge high fees that can reach up to 15 percent of the transaction.

These issues create fertile ground for a new company like BitOasis. The startup launched in January of this year with their multisig wallet service for those who already own bitcoins. The digital currency requires private keys for users to access their funds. Each bitcoin wallet service determines the number and type of keys for their consumers.

BitOasis uses a three key security system and has formed partnerships with San Francisco, California-based CryptoCorp and an unnamed legal entity. They store the three keys in separate locations, one on their service and one with each of their partners. This service protects customers from being hacked and is unique to the Middle East.

Doudin likens her product to the first email clients in the early 1990s. The Internet had already been hailed as a technological breakthrough, but its complexity made it difficult to adapt in mainstream communication. Today, bitcoins face the same issues of misunderstanding by potential users. BitOasis offers a user-friendly website, where people don’t have to understand the technicalities behind the currency.

It also offers a sense of security traditional forms of payment have yet to instill in their customers. While credit cards and online payment services ask users to give out their personal information and trust the merchants, bitcoins do the opposite.

“With bitcoin, it’s a push system,” she said. “It’s as private as cash. You don’t give your private information to any merchant. The only information they have is your public address.”

While BitOasis currently only operates in the United Arab Emirates, the founders hope to soon expand to the entire MENA region, and other developing nations. Based in Dubai, they are looking to also expand into Asia’s emerging markets.