One of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Kraken received approval to operate in Abu Dhabi. The exchange enters a widespread push into the Middle East, which is seeing a surge in crypto adoption.
The move was announced by Abu Dhabi’s market registration authorities in a statement. The exchange is the first to get a license from the Abu Dhabi Global Market financial center to operate a regulated digital asset exchange, according to the regulator.
The move comes as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) increases its efforts to become the next crypto capital. Abu Dhabi had in 2018 passed crypto-friendly regulation, attracting ventures from several major crypto players.
Kraken establishes Middle East headquarters in Abu Dhabi
Kraken, which has over 9 million users globally has established its Middle East headquarters in Abu Dhabi, the markets regulators said.
The exchange obtained all of the necessary clearances from Abu Dhabi’s financial regulator and will soon allow investors to trade cryptocurrency directly in UAE Dirham.
Curtis Ting, Kraken’s Managing Director of EMEA, praised the UAE’s crypto-friendly laws and stated that the exchange intends to expand in the Middle East and North Africa region “in the months and years ahead.”
Kraken’s approval also surpasses that of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, which only has an in-principle license to operate in Abu Dhabi.
United Arab Emirates attracts crypto investors
Both Binance and Kraken recently received licenses to operate in Dubai, another major financial center in the UAE. To entice more investment, the city recently passed crypto-friendly laws.
Binance set up its global headquarters in Dubai. It is also one of the few exchanges that have recently been granted permission to operate in Bahrain.
The world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange, FTX just received a license to operate in Dubai and aims to establish its regional headquarters there. Bybit and Crypto.com, two smaller exchanges, also both recently received licenses to operate in Dubai.
According to a 2021 report by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, the UAE is ranked third in the Middle East in crypto adoption, behind Turkey and Lebanon.