Swiss digital asset bank Sygnum secures in-principle approval to operate in Abu Dhabi

Company aims to tap into higher demand for cryptocurrencies in the region

Abu Dhabi Global Market continues to attract companies dealing with cryptocurrencies to set up a base in its regulated financial free zone. Victor Besa / The National
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Switzerland’s digital asset bank Sygnum has received an in-principle approval from the Abu Dhabi Global Market’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) to expand its operations in the UAE capital, tapping into increasing demand for cryptocurrencies in the region.

Sygnum’s new Middle East centre will serve the local market with a crypto-native suite of digital asset banking, asset management, tokenisation and B2B banking services regulated by Switzerland’s financial market supervisory authority (Finma), it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company will seek clients ranging from blockchain firms moving to the UAE to existing local cryptocurrency foundations and projects, traditional institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals looking for trusted cryptocurrency asset exposure through a regulated partner.

Sygnum, which serves about 1,500 clients globally, is expanding its operations after raising $90 million this year. The company also holds capital markets services licence in Singapore.

“Sygnum’s international expansion into the Abu Dhabi crypto hub gives us access to one of the biggest global wealth and asset management pools,” said Mathias Imbach, Sygnum’s co-founder and group chief executive.

“It also gives us new opportunities to show the value of investing in crypto with complete trust to the local community, clients and partners.”

The UAE is fast becoming a global cryptocurrency hub, with the fifth-highest global adoption at 34 per cent and annual transactions of more than $25 billion, Sygnum said, citing data from Statista.

A number of major companies dealing with cryptocurrencies were granted licence to set up their base at the ADGM, including the virtual asset trading platform Hayvn as well as Kraken, one of the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchanges.

Blockchain services provider Binance is also offering its services from the ADGM after obtaining approval from the FSRA.

“We firmly believe in the value-add that companies like Sygnum bring to our vibrant community,” Arvind Ramamurthy, chief of markets at ADGM, said.

“With a focus on bolstering the economic growth of Abu Dhabi and upholding the transparency and integrity of the marketplace, Sygnum’s presence in the region supports our continuing commitment to Abu Dhabi and the UAE, attracting global companies that truly make it an international financial hub to conduct business seamlessly.”

In September, the FSRA published guiding principles on its approach to virtual asset regulation and supervision to outline its expectations for the asset class and service providers.

In March, Dubai also adopted the first law in the emirate that regulates virtual assets.

Last week, ADGM launched Abu Dhabi Crypto Hub, a web-based interactive platform that provides users access to information and connects with the financial centre's existing virtual asset firms.

Currently, there are more than 5,400 companies registered and licensed at the ADGM, Dhaher Al Mheiri, chief executive of the registration authority of the ADGM, told The National last week.

Updated: November 23, 2022, 8:28 AM
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