Kraken Secures License to Operate in UAE

Key Takeaways

Kraken has obtained a full license to offer its virtual assets platform in the United Arab Emirates.
It will allow for trading in crypto paired with the UAE dirham, the local currency.
Trading in the region, which is already high, is expected to increase substantially following the introduction of dirham trading pairs.

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Kraken has received a full license to operate its regulated trading platform in the United Arab Emirates, and it will set up its regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, it is set to become the first crypto exchange that will allow users to directly fund their accounts and trade in the UAE’s currency, the dirham.

Big Win for Kraken

Kraken has expanded in a major way in the Middle East, a region where cryptocurrencies are growing rapidly in popularity.

Kraken has acquired a full license to operate a regulated trading platform in the United Arab Emirates, having gained regulatory approval from the Abu Dhabi Global Market and Financial Services Regulatory Authority. In an interview with CNBC, Kraken’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Curtis Ting, said the United States-based crypto exchange would be setting up operations in Abu Dhabi as a result, where it can offer virtual asset trading with dirham pairs.

This makes Kraken the first crypto exchange to offer direct funding and trading in the Emirati dirham, something that Ting emphasized as key to the local population:

“Right now, there’s a lot of excitement about cryptocurrency, but if you want to have a venue that you can actually get your feet wet into, you really only have two options. At the moment you’re able to buy and hold crypto, maybe from brokers, from some exchanges that offer it at a premium—or you’re able to do some trading but only in relation to USD or Euros or British Pounds. You can’t really do it in your local currency.”

He went on to note the importance of facilitating liquidity and access for those in the United Arab Emirates by giving them access to their local currency. The Middle East already accounts for approximately 7% of crypto trading volume globally; Ting said that this could go up by a factor of 10 once local currencies are made available for funding and trading.

Meanwhile, Binance, which dwarfs Kraken in size, is taking steps in the UAE’s other major city, Dubai, to make it a global crypto hub, having signed an agreement with the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority last December.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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