Despite misconceptions galore about crypto-currencies, regulatory issues, and concerted efforts to stifle the growth of crypto, the crypto industry continues to gain acceptance in the MENA region as time passes. When the region needed a secure, well-governed, onshore, and fully regulated exchange that allows investors to deposit, trade, and withdraw in their local fiat currencies in a seamless, affordable, and easy manner, CoinMENA's co-founders joined forces in 2019 to build a fully-regulated exchange with the goal of better addressing the region's crypto needs.
Leveraging her years of experience and understanding of what regional investors are looking for, Dina Sam'an founded CoinMENA alongside her partners with the goal of becoming the leading crypto exchange in MENA. Dina is a true entrepreneur who is passionate about crypto assets and financial markets. She has fully immersed herself in the crypto assets and blockchain industry over the years, and is on the cutting edge of all the latest developments, having worked on several startups and numerous projects within the industry. She was one of the first to provide access to crypto-assets to the MENA region, as well as educate individuals and institutions interested in investing in this industry and participating in this emerging new digital economy.
The Women Entrepreneur Team got an opportunity to learn about the crypto industry in the MENA region from the CoinMENA founder Dina Sam'an. Here is the gist of it.
Give us an overview of CoinMENA. What are some important features about your expertise as a global business leader?
CoinMENA is an onshore crypto assets exchange that is headquartered in the Kingdom of Bahrain and is fully licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB). CoinMENA was built in the region for the region and is currently servicing investors in five countries, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman. The exchange currently offers the opportunity to trade, deposit, and withdraw 13 leading crypto assets namely, Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD Tether, USD Coin, Ripple, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Chainlink, Compound, Chiliz, FTX Token, Fantom, and Uniswap. Investors can deposit, trade, and withdraw in their local currency providing them with easy and convenient access to crypto assets. Additionally, they enjoy customer support in Arabic and English around the clock. CoinMENA aims to expand its coverage to cover more countries and crypto assets in the near future.
Alongside my co-founders, we established one of the only fully regulated crypto exchanges globally leveraging our deep experience in building blockchain, decentralized finance, and crypto platforms in the MENA region and globally. The crypto industry is a relatively new and groundbreaking one, and being able to make inroads with regulators, financial institutions, investors and building awareness requires dedication, persistence, and strong leadership.
Take us through your early educational journey and prior industry experience that you bring to the table.
I graduated from the Princess Sumaya University for Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration & Management. I have worked in the real estate industry with a focus on building and managing my family’s portfolio. I am passionate about developing enterprises, whether it is establishing or growing them. In 2015, I was part of the founding team that built the first crypto exchange in the MENA region. In 2019, with a deep understanding of regional needs and gaps, we established CoinMENA with the aim of becoming the leading crypto exchange in MENA.
What motivated you to establish CoinMENA? Tell us about the various roles and responsibilities that you currently shoulder at CoinMENA. What is your guiding leadership philosophy?
With all of the experience garnered over the years and understanding what regional investors are looking for, CoinMENA’s co-founders joined forces to build a fully-regulated exchange in 2019 with the aim of better serving the regional crypto needs. The region was in need of a secure, well-governed, onshore, and fully regulated exchange that offers investors the opportunity to deposit, trade, and withdraw in their local fiat currencies in a seamless, affordable and easy way. CoinMENA has also ensured that its trading operations are Sharia-compliant as it was important to accommodate all regional investors including those that are Sharia-conscious. The exchange does not utilize leverage or margin trading.
“Coinmena’s co-founders joined forces to build a fully-regulated exchange in 2019 with the aim of better serving the regional crypto needs”
Running a regulated crypto exchange entails wearing many hats and shouldering many responsibilities. These include running the day-to-day operations, liaising with the regulator, managing the client relations, technology, operations, and compliance teams. In such a fast-paced and demanding industry, it is imperative to empower, motivate and challenge people and provide them with the platform to operate, grow, and be held accountable. The global operating and working environment has changed significantly as a result of the pandemic and consequently, being nimble, agile, and flexible is key to ensuring growth and success.
What have been some of the most critical business challenges that you have had to face as an entrepreneur in the crypto sector? How do you successfully overcome these challenges and drive growth within the organization?
When you are operating in a new and upcoming industry that is often misunderstood or seems intimidating, challenges do come up. One of the key challenges is dealing with regulators and how to navigate through different jurisdictions in the absence of country-wide regulatory frameworks. This is coupled with interacting with different financial institutions and ensuring that awareness and trust are built with both the regulators and financial institutions and also at the individual investor level. In a space that is rapidly developing, it is imperative that you balance investor needs with those of regulators.
In light of these challenges, it is important to have extensive and continuous awareness and outreach strategy at both the individual and institutional level and adjust this strategy accordingly as the industry develops. This is coupled with an evolving growth strategy.
How do you keep yourself well aligned with the developments occurring in the industry? What advice would you give to women who aspire to become business leaders or entrepreneurs?
It is important to constantly keep abreast of all key developments. It is a never-ending learning process and in a space that changes on a daily basis, there is no other option but to ensure that you are well informed and aligned.
No matter what the challenge is, embrace it and continuously believe that you can overcome it. Always set yourself an ambitious target and do not limit yourself or what you can achieve. Do not be afraid to seek support and advice from people who can guide and mentor you. Never stop learning and always seek to improve yourself. With the right levels of dedication, persistence, and perseverance, you can achieve whatever you set your mind on.
Dina Sam'an, Founder & Managing Director, Coinmena
Dina is a true entrepreneur who is passionate about crypto assets and financial markets. She has fully immersed herself in the crypto assets and blockchain industry over the years. She was one of the first to provide access to crypto-assets to the MENA region.