Binance eyes first crypto license in Middle East, Bahrain

Rick Steves

The news follows the departure of the exchange’s MENA director, Omar Rahim.

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), the country’s financial watchdog, has granted in-principle approval for Binance to launch an operation as a crypto-asset service provider in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Binance had applied for a license from the central bank as part of its plans to become a fully-regulated centralized cryptocurrency exchange.

Binance becomes compliant in the MENA region

Should the Central Bank of Bahrain confirm its decision to approve Binance, the CBB will be the first regulator in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to authorize a Binance entity.

The process to obtain the regulatory license is not over yet. Binance is required to complete the full application, which is expected to be completed in due course.

The news follows the departure of the exchange’s MENA director, Omar Rahim. He joined Binance in June 2020 as the exchange was expanding in the region to fill a gap in the region’s digital assets market by facilitating access to its services and infrastructure.

Binance’s MENA operation has been heating up. In October, the cryptocurrency exchange appointed Mark McGinness, a former DFSA executive as its chief regulatory liaison. The appointment comes amid efforts to undo regulatory red flags and reinvent itself as a regulated financial firm.

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Regulatory hurdles continue for Binance

While the in-principle approval from the Bahrain’s central bank is definitely a positive sign for the world’s largest crypto exchange, the company continues to face a significant crackdown and fines for operating without authorization.

Turkey was the latest country to inflict a fine on Binance. An 8 million lira ($751,314) fine was imposed on the local unit of cryptocurrency exchange Binance over violations found during liability inspections, according to news agency Anadolu.

This was the first fine of its kind from Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK). The financial watchdog became the authority overseeing crypto asset service providers in May.



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