The middle eastern arm of cryptocurrency exchange OKX reported Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority had granted the firm a minimal viable product preparatory license as part of its plans to expand into the region.
In a June 15 notice, OKX said amid the regulator’s licensing approval, the exchange planned to increase its staff to 30 people in Dubai and had already opened an office in the city’s World Trade Center building. VARA granted OKX a provisional operating license in July 2022 allowing the firm to offer products and services in the region.
“Licensing in Dubai is a critical element of OKX’s global regulatory compliance strategy,” said Tim Byun, OKX’s global head of government relations. “In today’s uncertain market environment, it’s of the utmost importance for VASPs to be highly secure, transparent, compliant and backed by strong, clear regulation.”
OKX has received an MVP Preparatory License from Dubai’s VARA, marking a pivotal step in our strategic UAE expansion.
New hires, new office & extended partnerships—we’re proud to shape the Web3 & crypto landscape in the Middle East.
— OKX (@okx) June 15, 2023
According to OKX, the preparatory license gave the exchange the regulatory leeway to fulfill certain requirements before becoming operational. The firm said it planned to provide spot, derivatives, and fiat services as well as U.S. dollar and United Arab Emirates dirham deposits, withdrawals, and spot-pairs.
Global crypto firms including Coinbase have made efforts to explore the UAE as a potential new market amid U.S. regulators and lawmakers cracking down on digital assets. In June, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed separate lawsuits against both Coinbase and Binance, and New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a ban on CoinEx from operating in the state.
The move into the middle east followed OKX announcing in March it planned to cease operations in Canada by June 22, but added the withdrawal was “temporary”. Other crypto exchanges including Binance and Paxos have announced similar departures from Canada, citing guidelines from the country’s regulators.
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