The hype surrounding virtual assets and the crypto landscape is experiencing a market boom. Roland Berger wants to position itself as an early pioneer in the area of strategy consulting in the segment.
In the 12 years since Bitcoin was first launched, the crypto economy has gone from being hyped among tech enthusiasts to one of the world’s most talked about developments in finance and payments.
In the MENA region, the rise of crypto is particularly pronounced, with a recent report by Gemini Exchange (based on a survey of nearly 30,000 people in 20 countries) showing that crypto ownership in the UAE is the third highest in the world, behind Indonesia and Brazil.
Global strategy and management consultancy Roland Berger has a strong presence in MENA, and with booming demand for crypto consulting services and rapidly evolving market developments, the firm is building a reputation at the forefront of the burgeoning landscape.
According to Feroz Sanaulla and Pierre Samaties, the partners responsible for leading the firm’s global crypto economy team, Roland Berger is “the first world-class strategy consulting firm to enter the crypto economy world.”
Speaking to ConsultancyME, the two explained that Roland Berger is “taking a leading and bold role towards the future of technology” as the emerging market is increasingly embraced by large corporations, corporations and governments both globally and in the MENA region.
“We support our global clients to understand the opportunities and risks of space and to develop actionable cryptoeconomic strategies. A key differentiator is that we truly understand the ins and outs of the economy and technology and are well embedded in the global crypto ecosystem,” said Samaties – who has been active in the crypto economy since 2015.
“We have team members who have deep knowledge of blockchain technology including writing smart contracts, creating tokens etc. This is a must if you want to provide sound strategic advice and also ensure our customers are well protected” , added Sanaulla.
Increasing acceptance and signature projects
While the company has traditionally kept its projects secret (most Tier One strategy consultancies are secretive about their client work), it is public knowledge that Roland Berger is involved in key crypto-economy projects in the UAE.
One project established the strategy to support consultancy for a large-scale crypto mining facility being built in the country. “A sovereign wealth fund chose us as strategy consultants. Not only do we deliver the strategy, but we also offer practical support in setting up the implementation phase and help build the project from a consortium of stakeholders,” said Samaties.
The project aims to create a multi-hundred-megawatt bitcoin mining site. Bitcoin mining is the process of creating new coins by solving complex “mathematical puzzles”. “The process is energy intensive, but energy systems and miners are partly complementary, and that’s why you’re seeing miners and utilities in well-regulated markets forming a symbiosis that offers new ways of demand management and monetization of electricity,” Samaties said.
Another engagement focuses on the development of a strategic crypto cluster for a regulator in the emirate. The goal is to attract crypto-economy heavyweights to the emirate, and the consultants so far have helped set the strategy, build the ecosystem, identify regulations and select a list of companies to act as anchors for the cluster could.
Sanaulla clarified: “A crypto cluster is very similar to the planetary system. An anchor company in the center attracts other companies around it. This attracts talent and innovation. The UAE is enacting flexible regulatory frameworks that allow for pilots and experimentation, while in other jurisdictions these entities would be drowning in regulation.”
Roland Berger put together a holistic strategy on how to attract the cluster’s first entities and considered what would attract organizations and individuals like them – including incentive plans and necessary regulation. At the same time, the company is helping to build an ecosystem capable of attracting “champions of the future,” not the next Google, but rather “the next unknown innovator.”
Meanwhile, in 2021, Roland Berger developed the strategy and business model for an initiative called GreenChain, a platform owned and launched by GMIS that aims to symbolize sustainable investments in renewable energy.
Regarding the growth of the UAE in the crypto scene, Sanaulla noted, “The UAE has become a progressive breeding ground for the crypto economy. Instead of measuring themselves against others, they take a disruptive approach and take leaps and bounds. We work cross-industry on all crypto-economy topics while developing business and investment opportunities for our clients.”
Seven key trends in the crypto economy
Based on his early experiences in this field, Roland Berger has developed seven trends that will shape the crypto economy in the coming years:
1. The future of finance
2. Asset tokenization
3. The Rise of the Metaverse
4. Supply chain improvement
5. Web3 and the data economy
6. Crypto Mining & Staking
7. Digital Identity
For companies still resisting the advancement of crypto, Sanaulla and Samaties have a stark warning. Amid the storm of disruption on the horizon, some traditional sectors will quickly cease to exist or slowly drift into oblivion if they don’t embrace the crypto economy soon.
Samaties argued, “We are at the cusp of an Uber moment for many industries, and even an Uber moment for Uber may be upon us. We look forward to shaping this new future.”
“Roland Berger has a strong global team dedicated to helping its clients successfully develop their cryptoeconomics strategies before it’s too late. Based on our rich ecosystem network of crypto companies, startups and incubators, we help clients find solid and trusted implementation partners,” the duo noted.
In doing so, Sanaulla emphasized that companies could not only avoid the risks of digital disruption, but also seize significant opportunities for their company to stay ahead of the competition.
He added: “We bring our core strengths in strategic thinking and entrepreneurship combined with deep industry expertise. We understand what to build. In essence, we are the engineers and architects.”