>> Here in Dubai's Gold Souk, customers from around the world haggle over bangles and jewelry. Now gold is playing a new role in high tech financial engineering by making cryptocurrencies compatible with the Islamic faith. I'm Andrew Torchia, Chief Economics Correspondent in the Middle East for Reuters. The cryptocurrency craze is sweeping the Middle East, much as it is the rest of the world, but there's a problem.
The region is home to Islamic finance, which bans pure monetary speculation. And calls for financial instruments to be based on physical assets. Most Muslims don't follow Islamic principles in all of their financial decisions, but the principles are influential. And many banks and funds are committed to following Sharia principles.
So some crytocurrency companies, including a Dubai startup called OneGram, are turning to gold as the answer. As its CEO, Ibrahim Mohammed, explains.>> By placing gold as the underlying element, we're creating a price floor, a minimum threshold. What we did was we took the first form of money, which is physical gold.
We took a 1,400 year old set of rules and regulations, and we took the latest technology, which is blockchain, we married it all together. We basically brought the digital world and the physical world, I mean, gold has always been a store of value. In times of chaos, panic, et cetera, uncertainty, gold is what's relied on.
>> OneGram says it has issued tens of millions of dollars worth of its cryptocurrency. And it plans to list the unit on cryptocurrency exchanges in coming weeks. Islamic scholars around the world are still debating whether cryptocurrencies in general are permissable. It's a complex and uncertain debate which may take years more.
But for now at least, it looks as if gold may be part of cryptocurrency's future.