A former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) alumnus and SoftBank executive has launched a dirham-backed stablecoin that aims to give countries plagued by high inflation environments exposure to assets linked to the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) fiat currency.
Cointelegraph reached out to Akshay Naheta, co-founder and CEO of Distributed Technologies Research (DTR), following the announcement of the DRAM stablecoin that was listed on decentralized finance protocols Uniswap and PancakeSwap on Oct. 3.
The Abu Dhabi-based company has been developing the technology for a dirham-backed stablecoin since October 2022. Naheta has rebooted DTR in the jurisdiction, which he had helped co-found in Switzerland in 2019.
DRAM is an Ethereum ERC-20 token issued by Hong Kong-based Dram Trust, while an independent trustee responsible for approving token mints and burns is reportedly licensed and regulated under the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
As it stands, DTR cannot offer DRAM in Hong Kong or the United Arab Emirates, but Naheta indicates that conversations are ongoing to provide token liquidity for listing on centralized exchanges outside of the two jurisdictions.
Regulatory parameters require that dirham fiat reserves must be deposited before any DRAM tokens can be minted, with reserves reportedly held by regulated financial institutions.
The DRAM website also links the stablecoin’s smart contract addresses for Ethereum, BNB Smart Chain and Decision. The Ethereum token contract reflects a max total supply of 2 million DRAM at the time of publication, while the Arbitrum contract reflects 499,999 DRAM, and the BNB Smart Chain contract holds 2.5 million DRAM.
A background search by Cointelegraph uncovered the previous launch of Distributed Technologies Research in Switzerland four years ago.
The company went on to develop a decentralized payments system called Unit-e, which was designed and built by a host of academics and developers through partnerships and grants with high-profile academic institutions, including Stanford University, MIT and the University of Illinois.
Cointelegraph has established that Naheta founded DTR during his tenure at SoftBank. DTR’s Unit-e project was a scalable decentralized payments network built by a Berlin-based development team.
“The original ambition back in 2019 was also to disrupt payments and to create a protocol that would have very high throughput with significant cost efficiency.”
Naheta shared details of the company’s efforts in “its previous incarnation” in a complete summary of the Unit-e protocol reviewed by University of Illinois researchers. The team now building the DRAM stablecoin features around 30 permanent staff and contractors.
Naheta said that while DTR would not be able to market DRAM in the UAE, the firm expects demand from companies in the region that are grappling with high inflation and currency issues:
“The link to AED (dirham) was driven by the strong performance and attractiveness of the UAE economy and the desire for stable, digital asset investment options around this region.”
The UAE is emerging as a hub for the nascent cryptocurrency and wider Web3 space due to favorable regulatory frameworks that aim to foster financial innovation and adoption of digital assets.