Binance gets first regulatory licence in Middle East

abdelaziz Fathi

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has granted Binance its authorization to establish a crypto-asset business, paving the way for it to begin operations within the country.

Binance

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange received the licence after reportedly meeting all of the operational, technical, and security requirements outlined by the CBB. The milestone comes nearly three months after securing an “in-principle” decision, which was the first stage of the full authorization process whereby the applicant needs to satisfy the CBB on one or more requirements in order to obtain a license.

Binance said that it would continue to work with the regulators after it was granted a full crypto-asset provider license, and as it looks to operate on as a regulated provider in all territories, it currently has a presence in.

Changpeng Zhao (CZ), founder and CEO of Binance, said: “The license from Bahrain is a milestone in our journey to being fully licensed and regulated around the world. I would like to thank Team Bahrain, guided by the visionary leadership of HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, for the great work in facilitating this achievement. Team Bahrain has shown considerable foresight in its development of crypto regulations and provides the regulatory protections that consumers should come to expect from regulators around the world.”

Crypto exchanges are getting traction

Khalid Humaidan, CEO of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) added: “Team Bahrain has built a world-class infrastructure to support the fast-growing blockchain and crypto industry, with robust regulations and diverse talent within the financial services, fintech and technology sectors. Collaboration with industry leaders such as Binance will further enhance our mission to establish the Kingdom of Bahrain as a leading business hub.”

The crypto-asset license will allow Binance to provide crypto-asset trading, custodial services and portfolio management to customers under the supervision of the Bahrain regulators.

The new approval also comes as Binance is trying to upgrade its regulatory profile worldwide, part of an attempt to undo regulatory red flags and reinvent itself as a regulated financial firm. For this purpose, it has been on a recent hiring spree, having expanded its regulatory compliance staff and advisory board by 500%.

The exchange was expanding to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to fill a gap in the region’s digital assets market by facilitating access to its services and infrastructure.

Within this context, Binance had appointed a former DFSA executive as its chief regulatory liaison, another sign that digital asset and exchanges are slowly getting traction in the Gulf region.

Binance said the MENA venture focuses on creating partnerships with local, compliant players in the region’s digital asset and Blockchain sectors. Binance’s long-standing rival Huobi has its eye on the same region. It has planted its flag in the Middle East since December 2019 and now offers its exchange’s trading platform and liquidity as a white-label service.

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