This week, crypto exchanges FTX and Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, announced the approvals of their licenses to operate in the Middle East.
Binance said it has received a license in the Gulf country of Bahrain, while FTX said the emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates granted approval for it to operate a crypto exchange and clearing house.
This marks the first time Binance has been licensed as a crypto-asset provider in the Gulf, and the first time that a regulated company has been allowed to work on complex crypto derivatives in Dubai.
"FTX is proud to be the first licensee under Dubai's prudential supervision regime," said FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. "We are excited to be able to introduce complex crypto-derivatives products."
“The license from Bahrain is a milestone in our journey to being fully licensed and regulated around the world,” echoed crypto billionaire and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.
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As the Middle East’s smallest economy, Bahrain’s central bank approved the license this week, allowing Binance to provide a range of crypto services from trading and custody to portfolio management.
“I’m proud of the hard work of the Binance team to meet the stringent criteria of the Central Bank of Bahrain,” Zhao said. “Not just locally, but globally by ensuring that we meet and exceed the requirements of regulators and protect users with strong anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing policies.”
The news follows on the heels of Binance’s in-principal approval last December.
“Developing regulations aligned with global trends is a key objective for us at the Central Bank Bahrain,” said the bank’s governor HE Rasheed Al Maraj. “We continue to work with partners and industry leaders such as Binance to develop regulations that enable innovation and best practices.”
Dubai recently announced the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA), a new agency designed to regulate cryptocurrencies and crypto licensing in the oil-rich emirate. FTX has said that it will cooperate with Dubai to ensure that cross-border trades are traceable and secure. Dubai's local legislation requires compliance with the anti-money laundering Financial Action Task Force.