The BackPack group continues to move from one success to another. After receiving its crypto exchange license in UAE, and expanding to 11 states in the USA, BackPack has now raised $17 million in a series A round led by PlaceHolder VC.

Other select strategic investors includedHashed, Robot Ventures, Amber Group, Wintermute, Selini Capital, Delphi Digital, and founders of leading web3 ecosystems such as Solana, Tensor, Jito, Zeta, Marginfi, Drift, Monad, Galxe, and other influential supporters worldwide.

Armani Ferrante, CEO of Backpack commented on the news states, “The history of finance is littered with scandals, but Backpack is doing things differently. Over the past year, we’ve set the foundation to build a crypto-native financial institution, and with the conclusion of this round, with trust minimization and compliance as foundational principles, we begin a new chapter for ourselves and, hopefully, for the rest of the industry.”

The Backpack ecosystem comprises several products and services, including the popular Backpack noncustodial wallet, Backpack Exchange, a fully regulated global cryptocurrency exchange with industry-leading speed, security and functionalities, and Mad Lads, currently the top NFT community in the Solana ecosystem. Backpack is also the creator and developer of Anchor, the Solana smart contract framework, the executable NFT (xNFT) token standard, and others.

Backpack’s strategic fundraising was led by Placeholder VC. “We’ve been impressed with Backpack’s ability to not only deliver high-quality applications, but also build a strong community around their ecosystem,” said Joel Monegro, General Partner at Placeholder VC. “After building a relationship with the team over the past year, we’re convinced they have the skill, ambition and drive to create one of the most trustworthy global exchanges in the industry with a strong focus on performance, compliance, and auditability.”

The round also attracted strong interest from other leading web3 ecosystem players. “The Backpack team is a great example of what happens when crypto natives are also strong builders. They understand that crypto is not just the underlying technology, it is also the culture that forms around it,” said Evgeny Gaevoy, founder of Wintermute, one of the largest liquidity providers in digital assets, “For me, Backpack is having the success I would expect, when a team figures out the intersection of tech and culture. I’m excited to see them continue to grow.”

After OKX received its crypto exchange VASP license from Dubai UAE through VARA ( Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority), the crypto exchange now receives a license in Turkey. OKX TR, will provide Turkish users with a trusted, compliant and transparent gateway to crypto trading and decentralized finance. The OKX Web3 Wallet is currently available in Türkiye through OKX’s global platform.

With the launch of OKX TR, users have access to enhanced localized features, including Turkish Lira direct deposits and withdrawals from banking partners such as: Fibabanka, VakıfBank, Ziraat Bankası, İş Bankası, Şekerbank and Türkiye Finans. The OKX TR team also offers 24/7 local customer support in Turkish and English, ensuring users receive timely assistance and comprehensive guidance when needed.

Also available is OKX Wallet, a non-custodial Web3 wallet that provides access to a user-friendly self-custody portal to trade NFTs, use dApps, and more. It’s the first wallet to feature both Multi-Party Computation (MPC) technology and Account Abstraction (AA) features, which paves the way for wider adoption among less technical users.

OKX President Hong Fang said: “The official launch of OKX TR is a significant milestone in our global expansion strategy. With a crypto adoption rate close to 50%, Türkiye represents a very dynamic and promising market for the industry as it continues to develop. The population’s high level of engagement and understanding of digital assets makes it an ideal environment for OKX, and we’re strongly committed to helping continue to grow this already vibrant ecosystem.”

OKX TR Board Chairman Mehmet Çamır said: “The launch of OKX TR is a testament to our belief in the country’s huge potential for growth and our commitment to the market. Already a global leader in crypto trading, Türkiye is also in a prime position to grow in the decentralized finance space. We’re excited to support this development, and firmly believe that our presence here will play a pivotal role in nurturing Türkiye’s emergence as a Web3 innovation hub.”

DKK Partners FZE, subsidiary of DKK Partners a fintech company, has announced that it has been granted an initial approval by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) for crypto brokerage dealer services.

DKK Partners FZE will continue to work towards acquiring a full Virtual Asset Service Provider crypto broker license from VARA.

The VARA initial approval allows DKK FZE to move forward in the licensing process as they look to offer corporate and institutional customers in Dubai and the UAE access to stablecoin blockchain technology, utilizing USDT and USDC.

Khalid Talukder, Co-Founder and CEO of DKK Partners, stated, “It is an incredibly exciting time for DKK in the Middle East and securing the VARA Initial approval will enable us to continue making a splash in the region. Our expansion to Dubai last year was a huge success and we’re looking to extend our influence in the market by strengthening our compliance and innovation in the Virtual Asset space. This license is a game-changer for DKK and the digital asset landscape in Dubai empowering businesses to confidently engage in blockchain technology, benefiting from the stability of stablecoins and the regulatory framework.”

Victoria Albergini, Head of Partnerships for DKK Partners FZE in Dubai added, “Since our launch last year, DKK Dubai has gone from strength to strength and is now in a prime position in the rapidly evolving digital asset landscape. The VARA initial approval enhances our ability to serve the unique needs of corporate and institutional customers.”

In a recent statement on the X platform ( formerly Twitter), The CEO of BackPack, UAE regulated crypto exchange, announced that the crypto exchange had expanded to reach 11 US states, including California, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Wyoming and others.

CEO Armani Ferrante outlined plans to consolidate the exchange’s presence in the US, saying, “Today, we beginning our journey to bring Backpack Exchange into the USA. It’ll be slow. It’ll be steady. It’ll be hard. But it’ll be worth it. If we don’t support your state yet, hold on. We’ll get there. This is something that will take years to complete. But we’re committed to doing it right.”

The exchange, currently in its beta phase, facilitates spot trading activities and intends to diversify into derivatives, margin trading, and more as it secures additional licenses globally.

Backpack was co-founded by Can Sun, former general counsel at FTX, and Ferrante, previously and a software developer at Alameda Research.

The Backpack Exchange platform boasts multiple licenses across global jurisdictions, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lithuania, Australia, and the United States.

In October 2023, BackPack Web3 non-custodial XNFT wallet and exchange received a full license by Dubai Virtual asset regulatory authority allowing it to run a regulated crypto exchange in UAE. Backpack, which was considered one of top 30 best crypto wallets in 2023, was developed by Coral. It offers XNFTs built on Solana Blockchain.

Backpack Exchange is set to launch in private beta for its community members in November before going live to the public in Q1 2024.

UAE based Trek Labs Ltd FZE, will launch under the name Backpack Exchange. This license only covers Backpack Exchange and not any of the other virtual asset products and services offered by Backpack.

It seems like almost every week or so new virtual asset service providers are seeking licenses in Dubai UAE. The latest already regulated in Cyprus and Mauritius, is B2 Prime Group. Its MENA entity, B2B Prime Digital MEA has been granted initial approval for a crypto broker, crypto exchange, payment and transfer license from VARA (Dubai Virtual asset regulatory Authority).

As per the press release, licensing remains subject to fulfillment of pre-operating conditions and qualifying for operational approval by VARA.

This milestone signifies the granting of Initial approvals from VARA for licenses covering activities of “Virtual Asset Exchange Services,” “Virtual Asset Broker Dealer Services,” and “Virtual Asset Transfer and Settlement Services”.

Eugenia Mykuliak, Founder of B2Prime, expressed her gratitude for this achievement, stating, “We are excited to contribute to the growth of Dubai’s ever growing Virtual assets ecosystem.”

Arthur Azizov, Co-Founder of B2B Prime Digital MENA added, “We are extremely proud and grateful to have received initial approval from VARA, which is a testament to our determination to maintain the highest standards in regulatory compliance.”We’ve built a powerful ecosystem that not only meets but exceeds the industry’s standards, guaranteeing a safe and efficient gateway to virtual assets for users. We are ready to move forward in the licensing process in our bid to offer secure and streamlined access to virtual assets, strictly adhering to VARA’s guidelines.”

“The receipt of the Initial Approval for all three licenses, particularly the Transfer and Settlement License, was eagerly awaited and has brought immense joy to our entire team. This achievement has undoubtedly inspired us to pour our absolute best towards securing the Virtual Asset Service Provider license”, stated Adriana Paredes Herrera, CEO of B2B Prime Digital MENA.

B2Prime Group, a Prime of Prime Multi-Asset Liquidity Provider, serves institutional and professional clients globally and offers compliant, reliable expertise across Forex, Crypto CFDs, and other markets.

OKX is gearing up towards its official launch out of the UAE as it awaits its license from Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority (VARA) with the launch of its Arabic language website and application for both crypto trading and Web3 services.

As per the press release, this initiative marks a significant step in making digital assets and web3 technologies more accessible to Arabic-speaking audiences.

With the Arabic website and application OKX is catering to the unique needs of different markets, ensuring a smooth and user-friendly experience for Arabic-speaking users.

OKX MENA General Manager Rifad Mahasneh said, “The introduction of the Arabic OKX website and app represents our customer focus and commitment to growth. By offering our exchange and web3 platforms in Arabic, we aim to empower more individuals to participate in the evolving digital economy seamlessly. The addition of Arabic to our global platform brings the total number of languages available to 22, highlighting our global reach and dedication to customer service.”

OKX’s crypto exchange is the second largest globally by trading volume and is trusted by more than 50 million users. OKX’s leading self-custody solutions include the Web3-compatible OKX Wallet, which allows users greater control of their assets while expanding access to DEXs, NFT marketplaces, DeFi, GameFi and thousands of dApps.

OKX announced the establishment of its Hong Kong entity (OKX Hong Kong) in March 2023 for the purpose of applying for the VASP license and operating as a virtual asset trading platform in Hong Kong. In September 2023 OKX announced that it was in its final stretch of its virtual asset service provider (VASP) license in Hong Kong. The exchange is expected to receive approval by March 2024.

In UAE, OKX received its MVP preparatory license from Dubai’s VARA in June 2023 and is still awaiting its final license. In November of 2023, OKX announced the appointment of a general manager for the MENA region based out of Dubai UAE.

In December 2023 the exchange delisted multiple tokens based on user feedback and failure to adhere to its delisting/hiding guidelines, including several privacy-focused tokens. The first batch of delistings will see KSM, FLOW, JST, ANT, FSN, KZS, CAPO, and CVP trading pairs delisted on January 4, 2024. Followed by XMR, DASH, ZEC, and ZEN, delisted on January 5, 2024. This is a requirement by VARA as it does not allow the trading of privacy focused tokens.

Despite the uphill battle that has faced Binance in 2023, in their recent 2023 yearend report, the company stated that they had increased their customer base by 30 percent, with 40 million new users. Binance now has a total of 170 million users.

As per the report, the company is focused on its user base and on strengthening their compliance program. The report states, “We are making important steps toward becoming a truly compliance-led organization. Above all else, we were able to maintain the trust of our growing community, which is fundamental to our mission of advancing the freedom of money globally.”

Binance added, “In 2023, we invested some $213M in our compliance program, up 35% from last year’s $158M\ But money alone does not capture the entirety of our commitment. Binance dedicates significant product and engineering resources to compliance. For example, we have built our own case management system in a matter of months, as well as an internal transaction monitoring engine and built in-house tools to help semi-automate the investigations process.  We have applied improved market surveillance controls, especially around wash or circular trading, to our trading platforms, including NFT marketplace, to ensure that the markets that we offer are fair and equitable for all participants.”

In the USA as per the terms of their settlement, Binance will hire an independent anti money-laundering consultant and will be subject to a multi-year financial monitorship, ensuring we receive strong compliance guidance. Binance’s corporate governance structure will evolve as well. A board of at least three independent directors, accountable to all stakeholders, will be the steward and governing body of the organization.

Binance hold licenses, registrations, and authorizations in 18 jurisdictions around the world.

But the crux of their efforts has been once again towards compliance. It invested in localized KYC vendor and product solutions to enhance the user experience and make the onboarding process seamless. They also embedded 10+ electronic ID (eID) solutions globally. Striving to deliver the best user experience, they added  support for 298 new ID and proof-of-address documents across 64 countries this year.  

The crypto exchange also processed over 58,000 law enforcement requests, serving some 13,000 registered officials worldwide through their Government Law Enforcement Request System. This is an improvement over 50,000+ requests that Binance handled in 2022.

Binance still awaits to receive a license in the UAE, and formally make the UAE one of its regional headquarters as a licensed entity.

UAE IHC Holding, which bought 10 percent of UAE Phoenix Group, a leading Bitcoin mining entity continues to spur its growth in Blockchain, AI and IoT in a joint venture with Indian Adani Group.

The joint venture, Sirius Digitech will be based out of Abu Dhabi UAE. Indian based Adani Global Ltd. and UAE IHC’s Sirius International Holding Ltd. will own 49% and 51% respectively in the Sirius Digitech International Ltd. Both partners will have an equal representation on the board of new entity which will also explore Internet of Things and blockchain besides AI.

The venture aims to explore sectors ranging from Fintech and Healthtech to Greentech, leveraging Adani’s proven track record of incubating successful businesses within its extensive portfolio.

The partners emphasized their dedication to collaborative decision-making through equal representation on the board, highlighting the alignment of Adani’s innovation and IHC’s strategic vision. In addition, they aim to go beyond AI, exploring the transformative possibilities of IoT and blockchain technologies to bring about significant advancements across industries.

Prior to this IHC  purchased 10 percent of Pheonix Group which holds investments in Bitcoin mining, as well as investments in the recently launched M2 regulated crypto exchange out of Abu Dhabi. This positions IHC not only in the realm of digital assets but now more so in Blockchain, AI, and other technologies.

It seems good news are in order for UAE based Venom Blockchain. Alibek Garcia Isaaev, one of the founders and main investors in Venom Blockchain has been found innocent of all civil and criminal charges. Not only that but he will be receiving close to a billion dollars in restitution. This closes a very bleak chapter in the Venom Blockchain history and it comes at the right time.

In July 2023, Alibek Garcia Isaev, was pushed into the center of a very controversial legal entanglement which brought a lot of criticism not only to Issaev but inadvertently Venom Blockchain, and its Foundation.

In the media Issaev was called a “fraudster” but now he has been cleared of all charges, and it is Ilya Kligman, a Russian banker that has been found guilty and has been sentenced to prison in the UAE. UAE court convicted Ilya Kligman for a prison term in absentia. According to news sources, “He is set to face a prison term, extradition from Germany to the UAE, and the recovery of multibillion-dollar damages he caused to numerous companies through extortion, blackmail, and obstructing their normal functioning.”

It seems Kligman fled from Russia to Germany for multiple financial crimes. He is noted to have siphoned off billions of rubles from Russia and bankrupted dozens of Russian banks.

One of the companies owned by Kligman, Papaya Ltd, registered in Malta (with partners such as Mastercard and dozens of payment projects), will be seized. Lawyers have already filed requests with law enforcement agencies in Germany, Malta, and the Czech Republic.

On the other hand, all charges against Alibek Isaev, one of the main investors in Venom, have been dropped in both civil and criminal courts. Ilya Kligman will be obligated to pay Alibek Isaev compensation amounting to $940 million. This sum represents restitution for all the damage caused and is part of the efforts to restore justice and punish unlawful actions.

After serving his prison term in the UAE and settling all compensations, Kligman will face extradition back to Russia, to face sentencing there.

This is good news, after many have noted that Venom Blockchain has been quiet with no investments being made into startups. Now the case is cleared Venom will be able to resume its activity. Venom on launching early 2023 had noted that it would be launching a $1 billion venture fund.

UAE based Venom Ventures Fund, invested $5 million in Everscale, a premier blockchain platform that aims to solve the scalability issues bogging down the Web3 industry. It also acquired a crypto exchange naming it Venomex after it received its license from ADGM in October 2022.

Earlier this month Mustafa Kheriba, the Executive Chairman of Venomex, a UAE regulated crypto exchange and one of the initial investors and supporters of UAE based Venom Blockchain Foundation resigned from his position at Venom Foundation.

However it seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Venom Blockchain.

UAE based Finschia Foundation, an independent non-profit organization, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, established in March 2023 to expand public blockchain and Web3 technologies, and NEOPIN, DeFi multichain platform have partnered to provide decentralized exchange services.

Finschia and NEOPIN will collaborate to develop the Finschia Network Swap (hereinafter referred to as FNSwap). NEOPIN is currently developing FNSwap, which will be the first Automated Market Maker (AMM) Decentralized Exchange in the Finschia ecosystem.

NEOPIN has been building blockchain expertise and technology since 2017, participating as a node validator for various global blockchains, including Ethereum, Tron, Cardano, and Cosmos. In 2022, the company launched the CeDeFi protocol NEOPIN to provide a secure and convenient environment for using the DeFi protocol.

This year, the company was selected as an innovation program company by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) in the UAE to attract direct and indirect investment, and is working with the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), a special financial zone in the UAE, to create the world’s first DeFi regulation as a public-private partnership.

As per the news, FNSwap is envisioned as a community-first, community-owned centered and fair platform, offering various range of DeFi products and incentives. These include token swapping, earning fees and rewards by depositing tokens into through token deposits in pools, gaining incentives incentive acquisition through token staking, and token transfers with EVM-based chains via bridge.

FNSwap is set to launch in the near future, providing users with a stable and convenient platform to access DEX services within the Finschia ecosystem.  Later it will be expanded by creating an environment where various Finschia dApp services can easily list tokens and users can trade conveniently.

According to the news, the Foundation will continuously provide necessary technical support and integration for the development of a diverse array of ‘money legos’, starting with supporting the basic token swap services. This support aims to facilitate the onboarding of DeFi services, propelling the platform towards becoming the №1 DeFi platform in Asia.