Kraken obtains UAE License to offer direct crypto trading in dirhams

    Kraken has become the first crypto exchange to be granted a license to operate a regulated digital assets platform in Abu Dhabi, as the Middle East becomes a focus for the crypto industry. The exchange will allow its users to invest, trade, and withdraw virtual assets directly in the United Arab Emirates dirhams (AED).

    US crypto exchange Kraken becomes the second virtual asset platform after Binance to receive regulatory approval to operate in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

    Kraken will become the first cryptocurrency exchange to offer direct funding and trading in UAE dirhams against a range of virtual assets after gaining regulatory approval for its local launch.

    Curtis Ting, Kraken’s managing director, told CNBC about the importance of diversifying trading pairs to local currencies instead using the traditionally available US dollar or Great British pounds in global markets.

    “We’re ecstatic to be able to establish our operations directly within the ADGM to operate a virtual asset platform that will finally offer Dirham pairings to regional investors,” he said.

    With the new operational license in Abu Dhabi, Kraken aims to better integrate with local banks and payment service providers. According to Ting, this will help the crypto exchange bring global-level liquidity to the UAE region.

    “For us, it’s really important to facilitate access to global markets and global liquidity by making sure that investors and traders in the region have access to local currencies,” Ting said.

    Moreover, Kraken is establishing its Middle East and North Africa headquarters at Abu Dhabi’s International Financial Center after obtaining the license, the center said in a press release today.

    The CEO of the International Financial Center’s registration authority, Dhaher Bin Dhaher, said the move will help the “financial diversification and the economic diversification of Abu Dhabi.”

    Kraken was founded in 2011 and is one of the world’s oldest cryptocurrency exchanges. It operates in more than 60 countries, but its recent foray into the UAE demonstrates the company’s regional expansion strategy.

    Binance made a similar move a few weeks ago when it acquired in-principle clearance from the Abu Dhabi authorities to operate as a digital asset broker-dealer.

    This follows the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange obtaining a restricted crypto-asset license in Dubai earlier this year. FTX has also recently announced intentions to establish a regional headquarters in Dubai.

    Meanwhile, Dubai, the UAE’s primary commercial hub, has been luring cryptocurrency companies since it passed its first law regulating digital assets and established the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) to regulate the sector last month.

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