Binance and other cryptocurrency firms based in the United Arab Emirates are optimistic that the country will remain a hotspot for virtual assets despite a potential shift to the United States should the Western superpower become a more crypto-friendly jurisdiction.
The “regulation by enforcement” regime in the U.S. has pushed global crypto firms to move to locations such as the UAE, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Singapore. However, the idea that companies could potentially return to the U.S. should there be a change in direction was floated during a panel discussion on Dec. 11 at the Global Blockchain Congress event in Dubai.
Highlighting the UAE’s approach toward technology and innovation, Alex Chehade, Binance’s general manager for the Middle East and North Africa, said the local government has built infrastructures around numerous initiatives that encompass not just AI but also Web3, sustainability, and other verticals:
“[People exiting] wouldn’t be the worry. We’d probably be worried [about], ‘do we have enough infrastructure for people coming in?’”
“The track record is there… We’ve got the education system, healthcare system, the roads, the trains. Where else would you relocate? To the other jurisdictions? They’re not issuing Visas. They don’t have the infrastructure,” he added.
Chehade said Binance, which recently withdrew its fund manager license in Abu Dhabi and saw its former CEO Changpeng Zhao plead guilty as part of a $4.3 billion settlement with U.S. agencies, will stay in the region, with its custody license in the UAE capital, and operational minimum viable product permit for exchange and brokerage services in Dubai.
Meanwhile, Feras Al Sadek, managing partner at blockchain private investment firm Ghaf Capital Partners, argued that the UAE leads through its “regulation by education,” highlighting local regulators’ approach of actively supporting projects through various engagements, including conferences and meetups. He said:
“It’s very hard to find regulators… fighting, educating and supporting these companies. So that I think is a key differentiator between us and the rest of the world.”
Al Sadek also pointed out the UAE’s goal of becoming a tech industry leader by employing thousands of personnel in emerging technologies, including 30,000 in artificial intelligence, by 2030.
Crypto Oasis Ventures co-founder Faisal Zaidi said that the UAE’s lifestyle and business community have made it appealing for nonresidents to stay, adding, “You come in with a plan [to live here short-term], but because of how your life is here… the communities and the ecosystem, people end up staying. He added:
“Maybe there [will be] a slowdown in newer organizations coming, but the ones that are here are going to stay.”
The wave of government enforcement against crypto companies in the U.S. has pushed away crypto firms, with industry leaders suggesting crypto startups should avoid the jurisdictions for the time being and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), headed by chair Gary Gensler, earning the ire of the crypto community.
However, the landscape may be shifting toward a more favorable direction for the crypto community, with U.S. Senators Cynthia Lummis and Kirsten Gillibrand reintroducing a bill to create a crypto regulatory framework in July.