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Dubai's BitOasis signs deal with Mastercard for crypto-linked cards

DUBAI, Oct 25 (Reuters) - BitOasis, a Middle East-focused cryptocurrency exchange based in the United Arab Emirates, said on Tuesday it had signed an agreement with Mastercard to launch payment cards linked to cryptocurrencies, they said in a joint statement.

The cards will allow BitOasis customers in the Middle East and North Africa to make purchases at points of sale or online, "thereby adding consumer protection - such as provisions for dispute resolution and refunds - which doesn't exist today when paying with a digital asset," the companies said.

"Currently, cryptocurrency payments and cash-outs are considered cumbersome, with the overwhelming majority of merchants not accepting such payments directly," the statement said.

"The partnership will address these pain points and further drive customer awareness and crypto adoption in the region."

The Middle East and North Africa is the region with the fastest-growing adoption of cryptocurrency in the world, with the volume of crypto received there jumping 48% in the first half of 2022, blockchain researcher Chainalysis said in a report earlier this month.

The UAE, with ambitions to become a global crypto hub, has been pushing to develop virtual asset regulation to attract new forms of business as economic competition heats up in the Gulf region, particularly with Saudi Arabia.

Dubai, one of the UAE's seven emirates and the region's business hub, in March adopted its first law governing virtual assets and established VARA as a regulator for the sector.

BitOasis, founded in Dubai in 2015, said in June it laid off nine of its staff, as the crypto sector faced a steep downturn and market turmoil. (Reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by David Holmes)