secures full operational licence in Dubai

The company can now offer services for institutional and retail investors in the UAE and across the Middle East

The global cryptocurrency market has been on a bull run, with Bitcoin hitting an all-time high in March. AFP
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The Dubai-based subsidiary of cryptocurrency exchange, Cro Dax Middle East, has secured a full operational licence from the emirate's Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority, as the market continues its bull run.

The licence will allow the exchange to launch crypto services to institutional and retail investors in the UAE and the broader Middle East, Singapore-based said in a statement on Tuesday., which serves more than 80 million customers globally, offers spot trading, staking brokerage and other over-the-counter offerings around settlements.

The company also plans to launch more in-market products in the coming months, including the app and additional retail-user focused products, it said.

The Vara licence "will be fundamental to our continued growth and success in such a key market for our company", said Eric Anziani, president and chief operating officer of

The approval follows a licence granted in November that allowed to offer specified virtual asset service activities.

In March 2022, Dubai adopted a law to regulate virtual assets as part of efforts to support investors and streamline the offerings from exchanges.

The emirate also set up Vara under the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Law, to create an advanced legal framework to protect investors and provide international standards for virtual asset industry governance and enable responsible business growth.

In February last year, Vara also issued fresh regulations as the global cryptocurrency sector was left reeling after the collapse of several large platforms, including Celsius, Three Arrows Capital and FTX, led by Sam Bankman-Fried, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for fraud and conspiracy last month.

The regulations aimed to offer certainty and greater clarity on the expected level of operator responsibility, and also mitigate market risks.

The UAE aims to establish itself as one of the next high-growth crypto capitals of the world, with institutional investors, hedge funds and financial majors moving in and setting up operations, also bringing along talent.

Investors in the Emirates realised capital gains worth $204 million from cryptocurrency investments in 2023, blockchain data company Chainalysis reported last month.

The global cryptocurrency investor community achieved total gains worth $37.6 billion in 2023, it said.

What is Bitcoin and how did it start?

What is Bitcoin and how did it start?

While this is much smaller than the $159.7 billion in gains made during the 2021 bull market, it represents a significant recovery from 2022, when estimated losses of $127.1 billion were recorded, New York-based Chainalysis said.

It comes as Bitcoin quadrupled in price since November 2022, a period that has been described as the crypto winter, or a period of poor performance. It hit an all-time high of $73,805.27 on March 14.

The world's first and biggest cryptocurrency was trading at $70,649.09 as of 1pm UAE time on Tuesday, down about 2 per cent over the past 24 hours, data from CoinMarketCap showed., Coinbase, the US’s Paxos, Nomura’s Laser Digital and Circle, the operator of the $28 billion US stablecoin, have all set up in the UAE.

Dubai's steps to help the crypto industry progress are being felt "both in-market and abroad", said Stuart Isted, general manager for Middle East and Africa at

“But this is still just the beginning and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Vara in our collective efforts to effectively and responsibly advance the sector.”

Updated: April 09, 2024, 10:24 AM