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Kraken Becomes Latest Exchange to Win Abu Dhabi License

2 mins
Updated by Geraint Price
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In Brief

  • Kraken has been granted a license to operate in the UAE.
  • The exchange is hoping to be operational by the second or third quarter.
  • The UAE has been aggressively pursuing a licensure framework since last year.
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Kraken has become the latest crypto exchange to be granted a license to operate in the United Arab Emirates

The exchange, which has over eight million global users, becomes the latest virtual asset platform to be granted permission to trade by the Abu Dhabi Global Market’s Registration Authority and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority.

Kraken has established a regional headquarters and wants to begin operating a fully regulated trading platform in Abu Dhabi by the second or third quarter of this year, says Dhaher bin Dhaher, CEO of Abu Dhabi Global Market’s Registration Authority.

“We’re incredibly excited to be able to set up our operations right in the ADGM [Abu Dhabi Global Market] itself to operate a virtual asset platform that finally offers Dirham pairs for investors in the region,” Curtis Ting, Kraken’s head of the EMEA region, told CNBC.

FTX, one of Kraken’s competitors, received a virtual asset service provider license in Dubai in March, while Bybit and Crypto.com are looking to establish a larger footprint in the UAE. 

Bybit outlined plans to launch a global headquarters in Dubai by April, while Crypto.com will establish a regional hub there and embark on a recruitment campaign that will allow it to further cement its presence in the region.

Kraken attracted by UAE’s forward-looking approach

Virtual asset service providers like Kraken are targeting the UAE region due to its forward-looking approach to regulating crypto. “The certainty and credibility that Dubai assures in its adherence to these commitments allow FTX to safely pursue its overall strategy of scaling towards becoming the first virtual-asset service provider to enter global markets in a fully regulated manner,” said Patrick Gruhn of FTX Europe.

“To stay ahead in this fast-changing industry, we are building a business-friendly ecosystem with robust regulations to attract, retain and enable high-growth companies,” explained Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade.

The UAE began a push earlier this year to issue multiple federal licenses to VASPs to compete with other prominent financial centers like Singapore and Hong Kong. 

The UAE undertook a risk assessment of digital currencies last year in partnership with 14 public-sector and 16 private-sector players. A report released from the proceedings concluded that, despite the propensity of cryptocurrencies to be used for criminal purposes, regulation rather than banning was the correct approach. 

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre has granted 22 licenses, while the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority has granted at least one.

The UAE is the third-largest crypto hub in the Middle East after Turkey and Lebanon, with a $26 billion transaction volume, according to Chainalysis data.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...
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