UAE's Etisalat picks startups for AI and blockchain scale-up program

Dubai-based telco Etisalat announced Monday that it has picked four startups for the development of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies.

The four companies were selected to take part in Etisalat's "Future Now" scale-up program, which includes access to Etisalat Digital's resources, experts and office space to help them come up with joint applications for the telco's client base.

China's Yitu Technology and United Arab Emirates-based Com IoT Technologies were chosen to develop video surveillance systems and solutions to improve traffic flows while also reducing crime rates by using AI.

Etisalat Digital picked Hong Kong's 300cubits to reduce the transactional costs and complexities in business process for banks, private organizations and government entities by using blockchain. The goal with blockchain is to reduce the costs by 40% over the next five years.

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Tradefin, based in the U.S., was picked for the adoption of blockchain to enable exchanges across various loyalty currencies and to develop a means to transform a loyalty currency program into cryptocurrency that can be used for both online and physical transactions. A loyalty currency program is designed to motivate customers to participate in a company's loyalty program.

The scale-up program is one of the pillars of Etisalat's Future Now ecosystem designed to provide a collaborative platform for partners, developers and customers to speed up the rate of innovation for technologies such as AI and blockchain.

Etisalat, which primarily competes with du in the UAE, has been active on the 5G front with several trials ahead of expected deployments in Dubai this year. Etisalat has worked with Huawei on various technologies and services.