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.”

For as long as can be remembered, the UAE has been at the forefront of the crypto scene in the MENA region. To date it has outpaced most of the countries in the region, but it seems that Turkey is starting to give the UAE a run for its crypto status.

During the past several weeks many crypto related announcements have been coming out of Turkey.

The first which was interesting was the expansion of Turkish home grown crypto trading and mining platform to Brazil. Bitci aims to open a cryptocurrency trading platform in Brazil and then Spain.

Chief Executive Onur Altan Tan said in an interview that he hopes a Brazilian exchange will build on its tie ups with soccer clubs there, given that the company offers fan tokens.

He stated, “We are opening a crypto exchange in Brazil because we have valuable assets there. We have released fan tokens of Brazil’s national team and we have agreed with six other clubs.”

Tan said after Brazil and Spain, Bitci plans to open crypto exchanges in some countries in Central Asia, India and Russia in 2024. 

But that is not all that is coming out of Turkey. Turkish banks are also gearing up towards crypto. Turkish AkBank announced the acquisition of local crypto firm Stablex as it aims to become a key player in the digital asset space.

Then Garanti BBVA, another leading Turkish bank, launched its crypto wallet app the following day. The application has a cold wallet feature and allows users to send and receive assets like Bitcoin (BTC), USD Coin (USDC) and ether (ETH).

Turkey ranks among the top 20 countries in Chainalysis’ Global Crypto Adoption Index 2023.

Finally Turkey’s finance minister, Mehmet Simsek, recently announced that the nation’s crypto regulations are in their “final stages.” According to the report, these impending regulations are designed to mitigate the risks associated with trading in crypto assets and faciliatate the removal of Turkey from FATF (Financial Action Task Force) grey list.

The proposed regulations outline a licensing framework for digital currency asset trading platforms overseen by Turkey’s Capital Markets Board (CMB). This framework will introduce minimum operating standards, including specific requirements for founders and managers, organizational obligations, and capital stipulations.

As reported by Reuters, Simsek’s announcement reflects Turkey’s approach to integrating crypto assets into its regulated financial landscape.

This is happening while the UAE still lags behind when it comes to Central Bank framework for virtual assets payments, remittances and settlements. While many crypto exchanges in the UAE have received licenses, none have confirmed which banks they are working with when it comes to fiat and crypto on and off ramp.

In terms of traditional banks, again most UAE banks have stayed away from crypto. It hasn’t helped that the UAE Central Bank issued a new guidance on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) for licensed financial institutions (LFIs) with a focus on the risks of dealing with virtual assets.

Companies such as WadzPay still await the Central Bank framework that would allow them to move forward with their pilot solution with Dubai Duty Free for implementing a digital assets settlement platform. But so far the only partnership Dubai Duty Free has signed up with is AliPay allowing customers access promotions and pay with their home digital apps at duty-free stores at Dubai and Al Maktoum International airports.

The globe is reacting to the U.S. SEC’s green light to launch the first US listed exchange traded funds, Bitcoin ETFs for 11 companies and has had a ripple effect in the MENA region. The SEC approved the Bitcoin ETF on January 10th, with skepticism towards crypto still present in Gensler’s statement.

The full list of companies that got SEC approval to launch Bitcoin ETFs are: Ark Invest together with 21 Shares; Bitwise, BlackRock, Fidelity, Franklin Templeton, Grayscale, Hashdex, Invesco, WisdomTree, Valkyrie and VanEck. Some of their ETFs will be trading on January 11th 2024.

The Bitcoin ETFs will track Bitcoin, opening the door to cryptocurrencies to many new investors who don’t want to take the extra steps involved in buying actual Bitcoin.

So what is an ETF? An ETF is an easy way to invest in assets or a group of assets without having to directly buy the assets themselves. It is similar for example to the SPDR Gold Shares ETF allows anyone to invest in gold without having to find a place to store a bar or protect it. In addition, ETFs can also be easily traded on stock exchanges.

The decision to approve the ETFs is a win for huge fund managers like BlackRock, Fidelity Investments and Invesco who will manage the funds given they have pushed hard to get the SEC to approve them.

Yet Gary Gensler, SEC’s chairman stated, “Investors should remain cautious about the myriad risks associated with Bitcoin and products whose value is tied to crypto.” While other commissioners expressed alarm that the SEC agreed to approve the funds.

Regardless of the negative statements, Standard Chartered analysts said the ETFs could draw $50bn to $100bn this year alone, potentially driving the price of Bitcoin as high as $100,000. Others have said inflows will be closer to $55bn over five years.

All this has brought forth speculations that fund managers will create ETFs around Ethereum soon.

While most agree that the success of Bitcoin ETFs will depend on fees and liquidity. This is why some issuers have proposed fees between 0.2% to 1.5% such as BlackRock and Ark/21shares while other firms have waived fees entirely for a certain period of time.

UAE experts, regulators, investors, and crypto exchanges weighed in their views on the U.S. Bitcoin ETF, and here is what they had to say:

Bitcoin ETF a significant milestone for the industry that could spur investment

Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority represented by its CEO Mathew White told LaraontheBlock, “Without a doubt, this ETF approval is a significant milestone for the industry. We need to wait and see what the capital inflows look like to see the real impact, but in theory we could see increased liquidity and reduced volatility of Bitcoin over time, which is good for the industry as a whole in the long term. Stability and transparency pave the way for more innovation and I expect this move to eventually spark further investment into this sector.”

Bitcoin ETF: will unlock wider adoption of crypto in UAE

Saqr Ereiqat, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Crypto Oasis Sentio commented, “The recent regulatory green light for Bitcoin ETFs marks a pivotal moment for the global financial landscape, and its ripples are likely to be felt particularly strongly in the United Arab Emirates. This landmark decision unlocks doors for wider adoption of cryptocurrency within the UAE, a region already well-positioned to become a global crypto powerhouse.”

Bitcoin ETF: legitimacy and recognition from traditional financial institutions

Stefan Kimmel CEO M2 a UAE regulated crypto exchange, explained that while other countries had already approved Bitcoin ETFs previously, the recent approval in the US marks a “monumental shift for the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem.  It feels like a turning point and an emotional victory in the ongoing narrative surrounding Bitcoin. This development not only provides investors with a more accessible avenue to enter the Bitcoin market but also adds a layer of legitimacy and recognition from traditional financial institutions.”

He adds, “The ETF approval will attract a broader range of investors, including institutional players who may have been on the sidelines due to regulatory uncertainty. This merging has the potential   to redefine investment strategies, allowing investors to diversify portfolios seamlessly across traditional assets and digital assets.”

In terms of the UAE He believes, “The UAE has strategically positioned itself as a global hub for digital assets. With the ETF approval, the UAE is now perfectly poised to take advantage of a new wave of digital asset investment driven by institutional investors searching for regulatory clarity and a favorable market environment. The approval signals a growing acceptance of digital assets within the mainstream financial system, potentially paving the way for similar advancements in the broader cryptocurrency space.”

Bitcoin ETF: Bitcoin can now take on the mantle of Digital Gold

Matt Dixon Founder and CEO Evai Crypto ratings, which uses AI and Machine learning technology to help crypto traders build wealth, believes that this green light is an important milestone where the phase is now ripe for the entrance of institutional adoption after early retail adoption allowed BTC to grow from $0 to $69,000.

He states, “ETF approval should translate to an increased demand, whilst Bitcoin Halving in April reduces the supply. Now if we consider the Stock to Flow Ratio, which incidentally has been a great predictor of Bitcoin pricing, then indications are that Bitcoin could at last take on its mantle of Digital Gold. As of April it will achieve higher Stock to Flow ratio than the precious metal itself. This could create a real squeeze on price with the possibility of Bitcoin achieving price projections of up to $1 million according to some industry analysts.”

He adds, “With the potential of further QE Fiat money printing by the FED if the US economy enters recession this year as some predict, then the limited supply of Bitcoin could cause it to shine even brighter.”

Bitcoin ETF: Investing in Bitcoin directly is better than investing in its derivative

Talal Tabaa Co-Founder and CEO of CoinMENA, a regulated crypto broker out of UAE and Bahrain, believes that Bitcoin ETF’s will add a lot more credibility to Bitcoin, and the UAE will soon follow suit. He also espouses that the best way to buy and invest in Bitcoin is directly.

He states on LinkedIn, “ There are three reasons why investing in Bitcoin directly is better than investing in a bitcoin derivative, First is Zero Management Fees: While ETF firms compete to lower their management fees, there are no fees for holding actual Bitcoin, leading to higher returns over time. Secodly is 24/7 Trading: ETFs only trade between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm on weekdays (if it’s not a holiday). Bitcoin trades 24/7, every day, and finally not your keys, not your coins: Owning Bitcoin in self-custody means having complete control over the asset with no counterparty risk. This will become increasingly important over the years.”

Bitcoin ETF: Bitcoin resilience paving the way to an Ether ETF

 Ben Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Bybit, the world’s third largest crypto exchange by volume, believes the approval of the Bitcoin ETF is a testament to the resilience of Bitcoin, an asset that continues to outperform despite facing an array of challenges.

In a commentary he states, “I believe that the real significance of the Bitcoin ETF extends far beyond today’s market dynamics. It heralds a new epoch of institutional and wider crypto adoption, paving the way for an Ether ETF and mixed products like a Bitcoin and Gold ETF. It’s a clear indicator that crypto’s inherent value as a global transaction system with near instant finality and total transparency is being realized. nd now, with everything in place, we anticipate greater institutional exposure to crypto. The investment landscape is evolving, and digital assets are becoming a mainstay in the portfolios of investors worldwide.

Conclusion

Regardless of the positive reactions and some negative ones too, the United States approval of a Bitcoin ETF is a win for the crypto community of enthusiasts. It means crypto is here to stay whether you like it or not. It means acceptance has started amidst regulation.

The UAE will make the best of it given it has already prepared the ground work.

For the skeptics it means the financial freedom once espoused by the early adopters of crypto could be eroded in the future. The big guys are taking over, the BlackRocks of the world are now playing the game.

Yes Bitcoin will soar, but will it continue to democratize the financial system, that is another story altogether.

UAE CoinMENA licensed crypto exchange will be able to reduce fiat to crypto transaction costs after being awarded its license from VARA, the Dubai virtual asset regulatory authority. CoinMENA holds a broker license allowing it to cater to retail and institutional clients.

With the license CoinMENA now has, it can serve clients from Dubai and utilize local banking services. Users can now instantly deposit and withdraw funds.

As Talal Tabbaa CO Founder of CoinMENA  explained, “Dubai is at the forefront of crypto growth and innovation, launching various initiatives to push the adoption of the digital asset in the region. Working with VARA will enable us to better serve our institutional and retail users in the Emirate as well as reduce fiat to crypto transaction costs.”

Dina Sam’an Co Founder and Chief Operation Officer added, “Building strong relationships with local regulators has been a priority for us since day one. We are delighted to have received a license from VARA, which further strengthens our market position and gives confidence to our users and investors.”

CoinMENA is the fifth crypto broker to receive a license from VARA. CoinMENA and others have received licenses both broker and exchange before Binance and other international players such as Crypto.com and OKx have.

CoinMENA already holds a license in Bahrain.

This comes two weeks after M2 launched in Abu Dhabi with full crypto exchange services. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are proving to be the center of regulation casting doubt on the regulatory environment in other countries such as the USA.

The Dubai Virtual asset regulatory authority public register continues to have UAE based BitOasis, crypto exchange on a “non operational” MVP Operational license status after a server glitch which had removed BitOasis from the registry for sometime totally today. This comes after months of BitOasis being on an inactive status, yet within Abu Dhabi’s regulatory body ADGM and FSRA BitOasis has a withdrawn its license application.

BitOasis has been working since July 2023 to fulfill select conditions associated with its Operational MVP License with respect to serving Institutional and Qualified Retail Investors, yet it seems that this is still ongoing with no change in its status to date.

BitOasis license in ADGM Abu Dhabi UAE, under the registered company name BLEX Financial limited has been withdrawn as well. In 2021 BitOasis had announced in a press release that its ADGM registered entity “had been granted a Financial Services Permission (FSP) from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and is currently working towards the migration of its operations towards launch in ADGM”, this seems to have been put to a halt.

In August, the Dubai based crypto exchange received a capital injection aimed at supporting BitOasis. The capital injection came from Indian crypto exchange CoinDCX. At the time, Ola Doudin, Co-Founder and CEO of BitOasis said: “We are delighted to be working with CoinDCX, India’s leading crypto platform. The investment will allow us to sharpen our focus on perfecting our existing products and expanding across our markets. We are very excited about the opportunities the funding will unlock for us.”

At the time of investment, BitOasis was undertaking mass layoffs.

Yet CoinDCX has not sought for a license in either ADGM or VARA.

Given that BitOasis is not licensed in ADGM and its license status is non active in Dubai’s VARA registry, does that make it an illegal VASP operating in the UAE, this is especially important after the Central Bank issued its recent guidance for combating the use of unlicensed virtual asset service providers.

As per BitOasis blog, in March 2022, BitOasis received a provisional approval from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority [VARA] to continue its business operations in Dubai whilst it undertakes the [in-depth] process of applying for a license in accordance with the VARA requirements. It is on this basis that the exchange is still operating today notes BitOasis.

This article has been updated as VARA website has reinstated BitOasis on their registery.

In less than a year UAE headquartered, Fasset, digital assets platform, has gone from receiving an initial approval for an FMP license to becoming a fully licensed VASP crypto broker in UAE.

In May 2023 Fasset, a digital asset exchange platform with a vision to offer affordable and frictionless gateway for people in emerging markets to own and grow their wealth in digital assets  announced  that it has been granted an Initial Approval for a Full Market Product (FMP) license by the Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) in UAE.

Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Founder and CEO of Fasset, told LaraontheBlock, “Our ability to connect loved ones, families and small businesses across borders while transporting economic value across borders -is a milestone and a historic shift in the way we will all operate in the near future.”

He also commented that the license will strengthen Fasset’s portfolio and connect regions  like Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Turkey. Fasset users can now confidently transfer assets from the GCC to Asia, enabling sustainable and ethical wealth growth in one of the world’s busiest remittance corridors.

Previously, Hossain had noted in a LinkedIn post that 47.8% of the world’s household wealth is owned by 1.2% of the people. He stated, “ It’s becoming increasingly clear that the traditional routes to asset ownership are no longer equitable; as access to high quality assets – be it real estate, commodities or equities – are only easily attainable to a mere fragment of the world’s population. A fresher approach of tokenization and crypto can positively impact emerging markets by giving everyone an equal chance to own high quality real world and digitally native assets.”

Fasset recently received a strategic investment from Investcorp as it prepared for a series B funding round.

This license follows Fasset’s launch in Indonesia in August, where it partnered with Mastercard Indonesia and telco giant Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison.

Fasset;s license comes on the same day that CoinMENA has received its license, and just a week after Abu Dhabi M2 received theirs.

In a press release, Indian based digital asset custodian and wallet, Liminal has been granted an In Principle Approval by Abu Dhabi’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate as a custody provider for Virtual Assets.

Liminal is working diligently to fulfill all the IPA conditions and meet FSRA’s stringent requirements to receive the Financial Services Permission (FSP).

As per Liminal, receiving the FSP from the FSRA will empower Liminal in extending its services as a trusted and reliable custodian for Virtual Assets within the ADGM jurisdiction and serve the broader MENA region. Liminal also recently launched its compliance solutions suite, with Notabene’s Travel Rule solution.

Earlier this year, in May, Liminal achieved another milestone by obtaining the TCSP License from the Hong Kong Companies Registry, enabling regulated digital asset custodial services in Hong Kong.

When Liminal secures the FSP from the FSRA, it will play a vital role in the Web3 ecosystem in the UAE, expanding its product and service offerings for the MENA region. Liminal will offer institutions a comprehensive suite of services designed to safeguard their virtual assets effectively.

Manan Vora, Senior VP of Strategy & Business Operations at Liminal, expressed enthusiasm about the IPA, stating, “ADGM has established itself as a thriving hub for innovation, growth, and maturation of the Web3 ecosystem. Their dedication to formulating clear and comprehensive regulations has created a trusted and secure environment for investors and Web3 enterprises. Recognizing the escalating demand for secure custody services in the MENA region, we took this strategic step to cater to the industry’s evolving needs. The IPA marks a significant leap forward in our mission to provide institutional-grade custody services for the digital asset industry. We are genuinely thrilled to contribute to the growth of this emerging market. After setting up an entity in Abu Dhabi, our next step is to obtain the FSP, and work closely with the ADGM team to provide regulated custody operations.”

Arvind Ramamurthy, Chief of Market Development at ADGM said, “We extend our congratulations to Liminal on being granted the IPA from the FSRA of ADGM, which paves the way for them to become fully operational in ADGM as a premier custody provider for virtual assets. As an international financial center of the UAE’s capital, ADGM’s vision for fostering a dynamic and trusted financial ecosystem prioritizes upholding the highest standards of security, innovation, and regulatory compliance. Liminal’s capabilities and dedication align seamlessly with ADGM’s goals and reinforce our commitment to driving the growth of the digital asset space in Abu Dhabi and beyond. We anticipate witnessing Liminal’s positive impact on the market and its contribution to the advancement of virtual asset services.”

Jehanzeb Awan, Founder & CEO, J. Awan & Partners, praised Liminal’s commitment and said, “It’s truly impressive to witness Liminal’s dedication to regulatory compliance and their unwavering service to the digital asset industry. Our joint efforts in undergoing stringent screening procedures and audits have culminated in a significant milestone with the issuance of the IPA. I am confident that Liminal will continue to set new standards in the virtual asset custody space, while fostering innovation in ADGM’s rapidly emerging market.”

In its commitment to delivering regulated and compliant custody solutions in the Middle East, Liminal is pleased to welcome Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta, Veteran Business Strategist, to Its Board in Abu Dhabi. Dr. Dasgupta is highly regarded for his contributions to ADGM, and has been instrumental in revolutionizing cryptocurrency regulation on a global scale. In the past, he has also held distinguished positions as the Chief Operating Officer of UK Export Finance and held leadership positions at esteemed financial institutions, including HSBC, ABN AMRO, Citigroup, and PwC.

In a blog announcement published by VALR, a South African based crypto exchange, they state that their subsidiary VALR FZE has won an initial approval from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA), marking a pivotal moment in our journey towards global expansion.

As per the blog post, “The initial approval granted to VALR FZE does not allow it to undertake any virtual asset services yet, but is a critical step as it seeks to establish a virtual asset exchange in Dubai and affirms VALR’s position as a reputable player in the virtual asset industry, committed to upholding the highest standards of operational integrity, compliance and security. “

Co-founder and CEO, Farzam Ehsani, stated, “For the past 5 years, VALR has been working closely with regulators to inform regulatory frameworks that protect the public while allowing responsible innovation to flourish. This initial approval from VARA is a significant milestone for VALR to bring our products and services to a more global audience under the auspices of a world-leading regulator.”

Blake Player, Head of Growth at VALR highlighted the strategic importance of Dubai and the Middle East, adding, “We see Asia, the Middle East, and the UAE as attractive markets with significant crypto flows. Dubai is quickly gaining recognition as a forward-thinking and pragmatic jurisdiction for crypto businesses. Setting up in Dubai provides an excellent opportunity to serve the regional market and a global customer base from a crypto and business-friendly jurisdiction.”

VALR is not the first crypto exchange seeking a license in the UAE nor will it be the last. Many international crypto exchanges including Binance, crypto.com, Bybit, and CoinBase have all expressed their interest in the UAE.

UAE based changer.ae, a crypto custodian service provider has received  the Financial Services Permission (FSP) license by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

With the FSP, Changer has become officially authorized to offer its services to individuals who are looking for a robust and reliable platform to hold their crypto currencies. Being uniquely positioned in the UAE, Changer focuses on protecting crypto based investors and informing the community about safety, risks, and crypto investments through its state-of-the-art custodian services.

Changer’s custody solution is an easy-to-use, all-in-one platform that offers customers simplicity at their fingertips while safeguarding their virtual assets. Individuals from all over the world can soon access the mobile application and use it to store their digital assets, with peace of mind that their investments are secure and always insured.

Changer’s enterprise-grade and robust infrastructure uses advanced encryption and multi-signature authorization to enhance the security of its wallets. Unlike most applications, Changer caters to investors looking for an independent provider of safe custody. By separating trading venue and storage, market participants are better able to ensure the protection of client capital.

Regulated by the world-class advanced regulatory framework of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Changer offers clarity and transparency in its services. Since the crypto world is a very fast-paced one and can be overwhelming at times, Changer has been designed with our clients in mind, it is simple, straightforward, and user-friendly. The intuitive interface allows customers to easily manage their digital assets, make transactions, and monitor their account activity through one of the fastest and most efficiently designed platforms. Moreover, there is a dedicated team of experts that is available for support and to answer any questions our clients may have.

Nadeem Ladki, Senior Executive Officer of Changer, commented on the launch: “We would like to thank his excellency H.E Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of ADGM, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, and particularly the Authorization Team for granting us the FSP license. This license is an endorsement from one of the most reputable regulators in the world and marks Changer’s commitment to maintaining a transparent and secure relationship with ADGM, ensuring that all our clients’ virtual assets are safeguarded in the safest way possible”.

He added: “I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the dedicated Changer team, our partners, and the regulators who have made the launch possible. Our combined hard work has made Changer come to life, soon to be offering individuals all over the world the possibility to protect their investments with cutting-edge security measures. With Changer’s services catering to a global audience, we are assisting in driving the UAE’s ambition to become a global center for the crypto industry and virtual asset community”.

Beyond the imminent launch of its custody solution, Changer plans to expand its services in the near future to offer its clients simplified fiat conversion and fiat escrow services thereby enriching its product portfolio.

Standard Chartered’s backed digital asset platform, Zodia markets, has received an In-Principle Approval (IPA) fulfilling the pre-requisites to receive a Financial Services Permission (FSP) for OTC broker-dealer in virtual assets by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Abu Dhabi’s international financial center.

As per the press release, Zodia Markets has chosen to expand into the UAE as the region establishes itself as a rapidly emerging hub for digital assets. The strategic expansion provides institutional investors from the Middle East and Africa with reliable access to this growing, alternative asset class, consolidating Zodia Markets’ position as an integral part of the global digital asset landscape.

Salem Mohammed Al Darei, CEO of ADGM Authority said, “We congratulate Zodia Markets on receiving the IPA from ADGM and welcome them to our vibrant ecosystem. Our evolving regime, progressive regulatory environment, and strong value proposition support businesses in the digital asset space, as we remain steadfast in upholding the highest standards. The harmony of traditional and new-age finance in Abu Dhabi with an international leading digital asset firm such as Zodia Markets that is backed by the well-established Standard Chartered will contribute to further enhancing the attractiveness of ADGM as a preferred destination for global entities.”

Andrew Price, Chief Compliance Officer of Zodia Markets said, “Abu Dhabi has already established a clear and forward-looking virtual asset regulatory framework. This early adoption and foresight have enabled it to attract innovation, talent and investment while raising the bar for compliance in virtual asset firms. It has been a pleasure working with the FSRA so far and I look forward to deepening our roots in the region.” 

Usman Ahmad, CEO of Zodia Markets said, “We are delighted to achieve this milestone on the journey to establish ourselves in the Middle East. We are excited at the opportunities this will open up for our business and this demonstrates progress in our expansion as a leading institution-first digital asset trading business. Our goal is to provide institutions seamless access to trade digital assets without compromising on the standards and controls that exist in traditional financial markets.”

In August 2022, Zodia Markets had announced its intention to expand into Abu Dhabi in 2023. At the time the company had stated that Abu Dhabi would be Zodia Markets first presence in the MENA region as it targets growth opportunities.

Zodia went live in July 2022 in the United Kingdom. U.K.-based Zodia Markets is a sister company of Zodia Custody, the digital assets safekeeping platform. Both firms share the same majority shareholder in SC Ventures, the venture arm of Standard Chartered.

Prior to this Abu Dhabi’s ADGM had granted RAIN crypto broker a virtual asset brokerage and custody service license. In 2022 , cryptocurrency platform Rain received in-principle approval for financial services permission (FSP) from Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGB), which if it is fully approved will allow it to operate beyond the GCC region and offer a greater number of virtual asset pairs.