The cryptocurrency market in the UAE has shown resilience amid global market turmoil, with the country maintaining over $34.8 billion in crypto transactions between July 2022 and June 2023.
This represents a 17% drop compared to the same period last year, but it is still higher than other countries in the Middle East, such as Qatar (down 26%), Oman (down 49%), Jordan (down 55%), and Lebanon (down 96%).
The UAE’s crypto market has fared better than other countries in the region, demonstrating the country’s commitment to promoting regulatory clarity and attracting crypto entrepreneurs and enthusiasts.
The strives to offer economic prospects to all enterprises, showcasing the emirate’s dedication to the digital economy. From July 2022 to June 2023, the UAE recorded crypto transactions exceeding $34.8 billion.
This article delves into the licensing status of different crypto companies and their efforts to secure full approval in the UAE.
OKX is a global cryptocurrency exchange, catering to over 50 million users with a trading volume of over $1.4 billion. It offers a range of services, including basic buying and selling of cryptocurrencies and advanced trading options like margin, futures, perpetual swaps, and options.
It provides automated trading tools, a platform for large-scale trades, a savings platform supporting stablecoins, DeFi, staking, and ETH 2.0, as well as borrowing and lending services for cryptocurrencies. Additionally, OKX has a launchpad called Jumpstart for new projects.
Established in 2013 by Mingxing “Star” Xu and now owned by OK Group, it is the first global exchange with a virtual asset license in the UAE. The exchange obtained a license on January 19, 2024, allowing it to operate and cater to retail users in Dubai.
CoinMENA is a cryptocurrency exchange that caters to both retail and institutional clients, allowing them to buy, sell, send, receive, and store digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other top altcoins in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The exchange is licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain and offers a simple and safe way to buy and sell crypto in local currencies. CoinMENA supports over 30 cryptocurrencies and eight fiat currencies, including BHD, AED, SAR, KWD, OMR, QAR, EGP, and USD.
The exchange offers competitive and transparent fees, same-day account verification, and bilingual customer support 24/7. CoinMENA is available in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Egypt.
Owned by Investment Holding Company (IHC), a diversified investment firm located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the exchange obtained its operating license on December 12, 2023.
M2 is an Abu Dhabi-based global crypto investment platform and exchange founded in 2022, with offices in the United Arab Emirates. The platform is designed to cater to institutional and retail investors, strongly emphasizing regulation and security. M2 offers a range of products, including trading and custodial services, as well as an “Earn” product with yields of up to 10.5% on Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The exchange is regulated as a Multilateral Trading Facility (MTF) and Custodian by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). M2 is committed to providing a secure, trusted, and transparent investment platform, with a focus on regulatory compliance. The platform supports over 30 curated crypto assets and is available on both mobile and desktop devices.
Founded by Bijan Alizadeh Fard of Phoenix Group, M2 has Stefan Kimmel, formerly associated with Kraken MENA and Commercial Bank of Dubai, serving as the CEO. The leadership team comprises individuals with experience from JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, IBM, PwC, and Goldman Sachs. The company received its license in November 2023.
Rain is a licensed and trusted cryptocurrency exchange in the Middle East, with a strong presence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries in the region. The exchange allows users to buy, sell, and store various cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, XRP, and USDT had a trading volume of $1 billion in 2021.
Rain offers secure storage through bank-grade security protocols, encryption, and cold storage, and it is committed to meeting all CCSS requirements to ensure safe and secure crypto trading. The platform also provides 24/7 customer support through phone, live chat, and email, and allows for convenient trading through local bank transfers.
Rain’s regulatory approval and backing by prominent investors, such as Coinbase and Kleiner Perkins, have contributed to its reputation as a trusted and reliable cryptocurrency exchange in the Middle East. The exchange’s focus on regulatory compliance and security has positioned it to target institutional investors and asset managers in the UAE and the broader region.
Fasset is a cryptocurrency exchange that offers a range of services, including a spot exchange for trading crypto assets with real value, a marketplace for peer-to-peer trading of cryptocurrencies, and an ecosystem for owning and growing a crypto asset portfolio.
The platform provides a user-friendly interface, advanced trading tools, and real-time market data, making it easy for traders of all levels to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies. Fasset also offers a feature-packed, simple, and ethical platform to help users build generational wealth with their crypto investments.
The platform offers a smooth and secure 24/7 service for purchasing, trading, staking, sending, and earning various cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Users can utilize the marketplace to directly buy or sell cryptocurrencies with others in their local currency. In November 2023, the platform obtained a crypto broker license from Dubai’s regulator, VARA.
Additionally, other exchanges such as GCEX, FUZE, BackPack Exchange, Toko, and Laser Digital are progressively working towards securing licenses to operate in the region.
Binance is a cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2017 that allows users to trade hundreds of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and its coin, BNB. It offers crypto-to-crypto trading, listing, fundraising, de-listing, and withdrawing cryptocurrencies. The exchange was granted a license in July 2023 and has an average trading volume of $76 billion as of August 2022.
Binance is primarily known for crypto-to-crypto trading and has high liquidity. It has high standards of safety and security and multi-tier and multi-clustered architecture, delivering high processing throughput. To start trading, users must complete the necessary know-your-customer (KYC) requirements.
Binance is used by millions of traders for exchanging and investing in various cryptocurrencies. In 2019, the global Binance exchange was banned in the U.S. due to regulatory concerns, but the exchange opened Binance.US, an exchange that meets U.S. regulations.
It also offers Binance Labs, Binance Research, Binance Academy, and other financial product offerings. Binance Coin (BNB) is a cryptocurrency that may be used for trading and paying commissions on the Binance exchange.
eToro is a social trading and multi-asset investment company that provides financial services. It was founded in 2007 in Tel Aviv, Israel, by brothers Yoni Assia and Ronen Assia together with David Ring. It was granted a license in November 2023.
The company offers a multi-asset platform that allows users to build a diversified portfolio with a mix of cryptocurrencies, stocks, and ETFs. eToro offers more than two dozen cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple.
The platform also offers a CopyTrader feature that enables investors to copy the network’s top traders automatically. eToro has registered offices in Cyprus, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. In 2018, eToro entered the US market by offering cryptocurrency trading. (no trading volume for this)
Bybit is a cryptocurrency exchange that offers a professional platform for trading various cryptocurrencies. It provides a wide range of trading options, including spot and derivatives markets, and supports over 100 crypto tokens with more than 300 spot trading pairs, including major coins like BTC, ETH, SOL, LTC, and others. Bybit has a trading volume of over $2 billion.
Bybit is known for its user-friendly interface, advanced security measures, and 24/7 customer support, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced traders. The platform also offers trading with up to 100X leverage on crypto derivatives products and was licensed in June 2023.
Bybit has a significant trading volume and serves millions of users and institutions globally. The exchange is available as a mobile app on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, providing users with seamless trading experiences and the ability to buy, sell, and trade various cryptocurrencies.
Additionally, Bybit offers access to the spot and futures market, NFTs, and the ability to stake coins securely. The exchange has a tiered fee structure based on a maker-taker model and offers multilingual community support for crypto traders of all levels.
Established in San Francisco in 2011, Kraken is currently the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange globally, handling $333 million in daily trades as of January 15, 2023
The platform enables users to trade over 200 cryptocurrencies, including popular ones like Bitcoin and Ethereum and supports more than 600 cryptocurrency pairs. It has a trading volume of over $147 million in the last 7 days.
Key features of Kraken include robust security measures, acceptance of various fiat currencies such as USD, CAD, EUR, and JPY, availability of cryptocurrency futures and derivatives trading, and educational resources for new investors.
Although it operates internationally, it is not accessible to residents of New York and Washington in the United States. Kraken follows a maker-taker fee model, where trading fees vary based on volume and account type, providing lower fees for makers. Additionally, it obtained licensing in the UAE in April 2022.
HTX, a cryptocurrency exchange situated in Seychelles, originally founded as Huobi in China, has offices in multiple locations, including Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and the United States. In the last 7 days, it had a trading volume of $270 million. It obtained its license in June 2022.
Gate.io, founded in 2013, is a centralized cryptocurrency exchange known for its extensive selection of cryptocurrencies and trading pairs. With over 1400 supported cryptocurrencies and more than 2500 trading pairs, the platform caters to various investor needs, including options, futures, and derivatives. In August 2022, Gate.io obtained its license in Dubai.
It is one of the leading exchanges in terms of trading volume, with a user-friendly platform and 24/7 trading services. However, it is important to note that the exchange is not highly regulated and does not offer the option to withdraw fiat. Gate.io requires users to go through a mandatory KYC (Know Your Customer) process for fund withdrawals and cryptocurrency deposits.
It had a trading volume of over $300 billion in the last 7 days. The exchange is not available to residents of certain countries, including the US (in Washington, New York) and Canada. Gate.io is known for its competitive trading fees and is designed to provide a secure trading platform for cryptocurrency enthusiasts. The platform is available for trading via its website and mobile app, offering a user-friendly interface for efficient and convenient real-time trading.