21Shares Brings First Spot Bitcoin ETP to Middle East

The region, now a hub for crypto companies, is “a market of significant strategic importance,” exec says


Source: 21Shares


key takeaways

  • The Middle East received $270 billion worth of crypto between July 2020 and June 2021 — a 1,500% increase from the year prior
  • The firm plans to expand into about a dozen more regions, executives of 21Shares’ parent company told Blockworks after its $25 million raise in September

The world’s largest crypto ETP issuer has brought the first physically backed bitcoin ETP to the Middle East as the firm continues expanding globally after a fresh round of funding. 

21Shares’ new product is listed on Nasdaq Dubai, marking the company’s first entry into the region. The company lists 46 products across 12 exchanges in seven countries.

The launch comes after the firm raised $25 million last month in a funding round led by hedge fund Marshall Wace — giving the company a roughly $2 billion valuation. Hany Rashwan, CEO of 21Shares parent company 21.co, previously told Blockworks that the firm wants all its products — ranging from single-asset crypto ETPs to indexes — in “every single geography.”

The executive called the Middle East “a crypto hotspot,” pointing to the region’s standout year-over-year growth in crypto value received amid currency devaluation concerns in a number of its countries. 

The Middle East received $566 billion in cryptocurrency from July 2021 to June 2022, according to a Chainalysis report published last week, 48% more than they received the year prior.

“The region has become a hub for crypto companies and exchanges…especially following India’s decision to tax earnings from crypto at 30%,” Rashwan told Blockworks.

“The Middle East’s level of interest and crypto-friendliness made it a prime market for expansion for 21Shares,” he said.

After Dubai revealed its first cryptocurrency legislation in March, the emirate granted virtual asset licenses to FTX and Binance that month. Kraken revealed plans to expand to the UAE in April — opting for neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi — while others such as Crypto.com, OKX and Komainu have also flocked to the area.

Sherif El-Haddad, formerly head of asset management at Al Mal Capital, joined 21Shares in August as the company’s head of the Middle East.

“Cryptocurrencies are fast becoming the asset of the future for investors and wealth managers around the world, as global crypto adoption and investment levels continue to accelerate at pace — and the Middle East is a major accelerator of this growth,” El-Haddad said in a statement.

“The UAE, and broader [Gulf Cooperation Council], is a market of significant strategic importance to our business, and we are excited about the opportunity this market opens to us,” he added.

21Shares launched the first bitcoin and ether ETFs in Australia in May. Executives said last month that the firm is seeking to expand into about a dozen more regions but declined to share specific areas.

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