Interview with Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Co-Founder and CEO of Fasset
Mohammad Raafi Hossain is the Co-Founder and CEO of Fasset. Prior to co-founding Fasset, Raafi was an Advisor to the UAE Prime Minister’s Office where he seeded and facilitated several innovative initiatives aimed at strengthening connections between governments and the adoption of emerging technologies across several sectors.
Tell us a bit more about Fasset and why the work that you do is so important to the progress of digital asset innovation in South Asia?
Raafi: Fasset was founded by me and my co-founder Daniel Ahmed in 2019. We both worked at the UAE Prime Minister’s Office where I was an advisor on policy, strategy and innovation mandates, while Daniel was a senior analyst on building strategic policies and initiatives related to artificial intelligence. With my background in climate change and sustainable development from my time working with the UN, and Daniel’s expertise in emerging technology and fintech, our complementary backgrounds were the founding basis of Fasset.
Inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have been leveraging blockchain and tokenisation technology to accelerate the financing of sustainable infrastructure across the world. We aim to raise sustainable economic well-being and launched the world’s first comprehensive operating system dedicated to the ethical financing of sustainable infrastructure on the Ethereum blockchain, opening up access to digital asset ownership to fast-track raising living standards for the next billion people.
However, over the years in the industry, we continue to notice the disproportionate distribution of sustainable investments across the world. Much of impact investments are funneled to developed regions and only 32 percent of sustainable assets reach developing nations in Asia, Africa, Middle East and South America. With an annual financing gap of US$2.5 trillion to bridge and achieve the UN’s SDGs, more needs to be done to level the playing field across the world and channel sustainable assets to regions that need them most. As climate change continues to intensify in South Asia, we see the benefits that digital asset innovation can bring to further environmental goals, strengthen technological foundations and boost investments in the region.
How has Bangladesh’s emphasis on technological innovation shaped the country’s socio-economic progress today?
Raafi: Soon to be the 24th largest economy by the next decade, Bangladesh’s rapid rise has made the country an emerging player in the global economy. In just 50 years since its independence, Bangladesh slashed its poverty rates and lifted over 25 million people out of poverty since 2000, and now outpaces some of the biggest nations in the South Asia region to become one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Pioneering emerging technologies has been key to
Bangladesh shedding its ‘least developed country’ status and growing its GDP per capita despite the onslaught of COVID’s impact on global economies.
Bangladesh’s tech revolution was anchored by initiatives such as digital centres—offering online training and services to rural populations, and affordable internet and mobile connectivity—bringing an increasing number of people online. Adding to that, just 2 years ago, the government of Bangladesh announced a collaboration with IBM to accelerate innovation and boost emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain in the country. As Bangladesh paces ahead to its Vision 2041 goal of reaching ‘developed nation’ status, its emphasis on technological innovation and embracing tech disruptors will see the country rise on the global stage.
How is Bangladesh leading the charge for blockchain innovation in South Asia?
Raafi: With Bangladesh embracing technological innovation and its receptiveness towards emerging technologies, blockchain has been singled out as a necessary disruptor as part of the National Blockchain Strategy. The technology is seen as an enabler of change and a catalyst to reach Vision 2041.
We have already seen Bangladesh achieve its first blockchain letter-of-credit transition in 2020 and introduced the technology into other sectors of the economy such as aquaculture. Encouraging even greater growth in the sector, the Blockchain Olympiad Bangladesh was launched as a platform promoting the exchange of ideas and building opportunities and innovation in the country. This is just another example of the growing position that blockchain has in Bangladesh’s agenda and how it continues to play an important role in revolutionising the economy. As Bangladesh continues to be a strong advocate for blockchain and a robust economy expected to outpace India in GDP per capita, the country is well-positioned to influence and steer the direction of blockchain innovation within the South Asia region.
As Fasset looks to expand within the Asia region, what are the company’s ambitions in setting foot in Bangladesh?
Raafi: Bangladesh’s strong support for blockchain innovation makes it an important market for Fasset. As we look to build our presence across South Asia, economies with favourable policies and a conducive ecosystem will be vital to strengthening our foundations as a nascent upstart. Especially since Bangladesh has committed US$208 million to educate and upskill graduates in distributed ledger technology and other emerging tech, its growing talent-pool of highly-qualified professionals is key to bolstering Fasset’s growth within the country and across the region. We look forward to leveraging Bangladesh’s blockchain-friendly policies and initiatives, and are
excited to contribute to its digital asset industry, to accelerate innovation and place it on the map as a rising blockchain hub.
What’s next for Fasset?
Raafi: Less than 2 years since our inception, we have already achieved several industry firsts. We successfully completed the first Proof-of-Concept (PoC) tokenisation of a Tesla charging unit in Bahrain to accelerate the progression, accessibility and adoption of electric vehicles. We were also one of the first to launch a non-fungible token (NFT) created in the Middle East.
We are proud to be recognised by authorities across the world who continue to support our goals of connecting more people to digital assets. Fasset has been backed by the Central Bank of Bahrain to test our solutions of tokenisation of hard assets in their FinTech Regulatory Sandbox, and are licensed by Malaysia’s Labuan Financial Services Authority.
With South Asia’s favourable tech ecosystem and Southeast Asia being home to one of the largest pools of digital asset users in the world, we will continue expanding our footprint within these regions to achieve our goal of reaching a billion digital asset users. With both regions being home to some of the largest Muslim populations in the world, yet have limited options for Sharia-compliant digital assets, both regions offer ample opportunities for Fasset to explore untapped potentials in the market. Watch this space!