Kraken Receives Abu Dhabi’s First Virtual Asset Exchange License

Binance, FTX recently gained licenses to operate in neighboring emirate Dubai

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Abu Dhabi skyline | Source: Shutterstock

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key takeaways

  • Kraken seeks to allow investors in the region to trade, withdraw and deposit bitcoin and ether directly in Emirati dirham
  • The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) launched its crypto framework in 2018

Kraken is set to expand its footprint to the United Arab Emirates, but unlike some of its competitors, the exchange is opting for Abu Dhabi rather than Dubai. 

The company announced that it has become the first exchange to receive a full financial license to operate as a regulated virtual asset exchange platform in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

Kraken will launch its crypto exchange there in the “near future,” according to a Monday statement. It has set up an office and executive team in Abu Dhabi and plans to scale post-launch.

The exchange seeks to bring the ability for investors in the region to trade, withdraw and deposit bitcoin and ether directly in the local currency, Emirati dirham. Regional investors currently must first convert dirhams into dollars, euros, British pounds and other foreign currencies to access crypto trading and investing.

Founded in 2011, Kraken has about nine million clients across 60 countries. A Kraken spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. 

The ADGM launched its framework to regulate spot cryptoasset activities in 2018 in an effort to “bolster the economic diversification of Abu Dhabi through innovation and sustainable initiatives.”

Binance received an initial approval from ADGM regulators to operate as a broker-dealer in virtual assets earlier this month as part of its plans to become a fully-regulated virtual asset service provider. 

Kraken’s competitor gained licenses to be a crypto service provider in Dubai and Bahrain, Bloomberg News reported last month.

Crypto exchange FTX also received a license to operate within the UAE last month and seeks to establish a regional headquarters in Dubai. The news came as the emirate of Dubai — one of seven within the UAE — adopted its first piece of crypto legislation and established a regulator to monitor the sector.

Representatives for Binance and FTX did not immediately return requests for comment about offerings and plans within the region.


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