Mudassir Shiekha, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Careem, a tech unicorn in transport in the MENA region revealed in an interview, that Careem has been looking to use the blockchain technology in different sectors.
In the blockchain industry in Dubai, Careem is now a part of the Global Blockchain Council that is working on a blockchain-enabled loyalty program with the Emirates Airlines and on a payment mechanism based on the technology, as claimed by Shieka.
With regards to blockchain, Sheikha said that the Middle East is way behind the West as it lacks technologies such as the likes of blockchain. Sheikha expressed:
We have an opportunity to build things in a way that are blockchain-enabled, that are more open, that are more efficient than the things that have been built in other parts of the world.
With the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, Dubai is determined to transform 50% of government transactions into the blockchain platform by 2021. The Global Bockchain Council in Dubai was set up to discuss current and future applications and organize transactions through blockchain. Careem is one of the 46 members of the Global Council in Dubai and is “leading the initiative with the government to bring blockchain into more and more applications within the region” as said by Mudassir Shieka.
Careem is also working with one of the biggest airlines in Middle East, the Emirates Airline in developing a blockchain application that will allow riders to use Emirates Airline miles to buy rides. Earlier, the procedure of redeeming skywards miles was such that the user first request for a redeem on the Emirates app, then receive an e-voucher code on e-mail and then add codes in the Careem app, which turns the miles into Careem rides. This procedure however, as quoted by Sheikha is “not real-time, it’s (the procedure) not very convenient.” He continued:
With blockchain, we are able to improve the user experience tremendously, because now basically this is a public ledger that allows us to interact with it in a completely different way than we would interact with legacy systems. So, the user experience in our app is going to be very streamlined – you will be able to, through a few clicks, in a seamless interface, redeem miles on Careem.
According to Shiekha, Careem wishes to use blockchain and develop a wallet to increase user’s ease of payment. He said:
Most of the people in the region do not have credit cards, so we have a wallet that allows people to more conveniently use cash and as we are thinking of the next phase of that wallet, we are looking at blockchain to see how we can create ledgers in a way that are blockchain-enabled.
The CEO was also asked about the security breach faced by Careem in April 9, if the company is planning on using the blockchain technology to counter such attacks. However, it seems that Careem will be using other ways to make their processes more secure. Shiekha stated: “It’s not the first thing (blockchian) we have thought of, we are currently working with more traditional mechanisms”. Shedding light on technologies he said that Careem is working with “monitoring systems – more traditional intrusion prevention systems having more security audits, more penetration attacks to keep testing our systems to make sure that we are protected.”
Careem, being in the top two tech unicorns in the Middle East along with Souq.com, is moving ahead progressively. With its business in the Middle East and other countries such as Pakistan, the public transport system has certainly been revolutionized, not only digitizing the system, but also allowing an average person to interact with new technologies. Hence, with Careem using blockchain, whether with governments or with other companies, Careem could become a part of a gateway for the blockchain technology in the MENA region.