Qatar exploring blockchain despite ‘no interest’ in Crypto, wealth fund official says

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has no interest in investing in Bitcoin, but is still very much interested in exploring blockchain.

Cryptocurrencies have yet to grab Qatar Wealth Fund’s interest despite their dominating popularity, Chief Executive Officer Mansoor Al Mahmoud revealed.

The blockchain technology itself, however, has turned some heads.

“Our team in the technology space are exploring opportunities in the blockchain,” Al Mahmoud said in an interview at the second Qatar Economic Forum in Doha on Tuesday.

“This is the space that we’re interested in, not the currency itself.”

The most widely used cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, witnessed a dramatic plunge last week after a number of platforms blocked withdrawals. The currency was trading at around $21,000, down more than 3% in the past day, according to data from CoinMetrics.

Once dubbed ‘the currency of the future’, Bitcoin has seen a drop of more than 20% in the last week alone and more than 60% from its all-time high in November, which saw a height of about $69,000.

This year witnessed one of the worst drops in the cryptocurrency market after the collapse of the token luna and the so-called algorithmic stablecoin TerraUSD. The distribution sparked several concerns globally among investors who dumped thousands, if not millions, into the currency for a chance to profit.

Stablecoins are a subset of cryptocurrencies that are meant to be linked to tangible assets. Many appear to be tied exactly to the American dollar. Some cryptocurrencies, like tether and USD Coin, are backed by tangible assets like fiat money and government bonds.

However, several algorithmic stablecoins lack a reserve of assets, like TerraUSD. Instead, an algorithm controls the $1 peg.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine war has also taken a toll on Bitcoin’s investment after Russia’s aggression on its neighbouring European nation.

In August 2021, Russia was the second-largest mining hub after Kazakhstan, contributing around 11% of the total processing power required to create new bitcoins, according to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

For that, and among several other reasons, the Qatar fund is not looking into investing more into Russia, though it still has some holdings in the country, Al-Mahmoud said.

The Gulf nation’s sovereign wealth fund is, however, looking for partners to invest in African infrastructure, and is optimistic about Europe in the long-term, he added.