Derivatives exchange Deribit to move its headquarters to Dubai

abdelaziz Fathi

Cryptocurrency options and futures exchange Deribit has announced plans to move its headquarters to Dubai from Panama as the UAE ramps up efforts to attract companies in the crypto industry.

Deribit will begin operations in Dubai as soon as the third quarter after obtaining the approval to conduct a virtual asset business in the UAE, Bloomberg reported.

The exchange said it will establish a regional base in Dubai with a mix of core employees and local hires and plans to initially open a new office staffed by a headcount of 10 people. Deribit, which currently employs 95 people globally, will continue to be based in Panama.

“We’ve had a number of clients who basically intimated to us that they would like to trade on a crypto exchange that’s actually regulated. In Panama we are not regulated. Also we saw where the regulatory winds were blowing, and there was a drive toward regulation across the globe,” said David Dohmen, chief legal compliance and regulatory officer at Deribit.

Deribit is joining global competitors such as Crypto.com, Binance and Baybit in basing part of their business into the UAE. The country has developed a crypto-friendly reputation compared to other financial jurisdictions that instructed crypto companies to refrain from consumer-oriented marketing.

Dubai is also a favorite hub for crypto firms that suffer in their home from heavy taxes or taking a tough stance on cryptocurrency, which could pave the way for the city to attract more business.

Notably, the UAE was the first global economy to have set up a specialised regulator for the virtual asset sector. Announced by the UAE’s Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the emirate has enacted its first law governing cryptocurrency activities, and it has also formed an independent regulator to supervise the sector.

Deribit, the world’s largest crypto options exchange by volume and open interest, suffered a security breach in December when hackers stole nearly $28 million from its hot wallets. However, the exchange enjoyed solid volumes over the last few years as more sophisticated investors entered the crypto market. As such, there has been an increasing investor interest in trading derivatives, which let traders make bets on the price of cryptocurrencies without the need for actual delivery.

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