• Binance has obtained its first regulatory approval in the Middle East, via an approval-in-principal from the Central Bank of Bahrain for a crypto-asset service provider license
  • The exchange appears to also be in the process of registering an entity in Canada as it’s applied for a money services business license with Fintrac — the Canadian equivalent to Fincen

Bahrain, not the United Arab Emirates, may be first country in which Binance is licensed as the exchange announced today it has received in-principle approval from the Central Bank of Bahrain to establish itself as a crypto-asset service provider in the kingdom.

“Recognition and approval from national regulators, such as the Central Bank of Bahrain, is essential to build trust in crypto and blockchain and help further improve mass adoption,” Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, said in a press release. “The approval recognizes Binance’s commitment to comply fully with regulatory requirements and our broader commitment to anchor operations and activities in Bahrain.”

The approval-in-principle is part of Binance’s plan to become a fully regulated centralized cryptocurrency exchange by obtaining licenses in key markets around the world. Abdulla Haji, a director at Bahrain’s central bank, told Bloomberg that finalizing the licensing is “a matter of formalities” once Binance establishes itself in-country.

Earlier this month, Binance announced that it was working with regulators in the United Arab Emirates to accelerate crypto adoption. The exchange announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority to help establish a global hub for virtual assets in Dubai. Regulators within the UAE have been generally supportive of the crypto industry, and it is thought that Binance will eventually establish its centralized headquarters in Dubai.

For a while, Singapore looked destined to become Binance’s headquarters, though that’s no longer the case after relations with regulators there soured. Binance withdrew its application for a crypto license with Singapore’s regulator in mid-December, although Binance says that was because it has invested in a local licensed exchange, making obtaining its own license redundant.     

At the same time it appears that Binance is making inroads into establishing a licensed operation in Canada, registering an entity with a Calgary, Alberta address as a money services business with Fintrac, the Canadian equivalent to Fincen. The next step would be registration with Alberta’s securities regulator (securities are a provincial affair in Canada), which might happen later this week as offices reopen after the Christmas holiday.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao is a Canadian citizen.

Binance’s BNB token is set to open the North American Monday trading session at $548, up 1% over the past 24 hours, according to CoinGecko.

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  • Blockworks
    Sam Reynolds is a Taipei-based reporter, covering digital assets and regulation throughout Asia. Before joining Blockworks he was an editor at Forkast News and an analyst with IDC.