FTX and Binance Make Additional Moves Into The Middle East As The Region Warms Up to Crypto

With the first quarter of the year all but gone, so far, FTX and Binance have been the two crypto exchanges to really hit the ground running.

FTX and Binance Make Additional Moves Into The Middle East As The Region Warms Up to Crypto

Both exchanges have ridden a wave of approvals to expand their operations. To end the month, they've both made headway in the Middle East.

FTX Breaks Fresh Ground In Dubai

Two weeks ago, FTX announced that it had gotten the green light to expand its operations into the United Arab Emirates. The company received a virtual exchange license from the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA), which would allow it to operate in the Emirate's free zones and special development areas.

With the virtual asset exchange license, FTX will be able to operate within Dubai's crypto market model. The exchange has confirmed that it will adhere to global customer protection standards and identity verification laws put forth by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Sam Bankman-Fried, the exchange's chief executive, confirmed that the award was the first and only for a crypto exchange in Dubai at the time, with the exchange looking to establish a much deeper presence in the economic hotspot. As part of the company's push into Dubai, FTX is looking to establish a regional headquarters in the city. It will also focus on offering crypto derivatives with a centralized clearing counterparty to interested institutional investors.

"The certainty and credibility that Dubai assures in its adherence to these commitments allows FTX to safely pursue its overall strategy of scaling towards becoming the first virtual-asset service provider to enter global markets in a fully regulated manner," said Patrick Gruhn, the head of FTX Europe, in the announcement.

Binance Scores A Double Win

While Bankman-Fried had claimed that FTX was the only exchange for getting approval to move into Dubai, his claim wouldn't last so long. Just two days after the exchange's announcement, Binance also confirmed that it had gotten approval to move into the city. As a company announcement confirmed, Binance obtained a virtual asset provider license, which would allow it to set up an office in Dubai.

The virtual asset provider license also clears Binance to offer digital set exchange services to pre-qualified investors and financial firms - provided that the company follows existing operational guidelines. Dubai currently accommodates 22 virtual asset providers, with the virtual asset exchange license newly introduced. Now, both exchanges have been cleared to fully operate here, bringing another region into their growing competition.

For now, Binance appears to have the upper hand in the Middle East. Besides the license it got to operate in Dubai, the exchange has also been cleared to provide services in Bahrain. Binance was also awarded an operating license by the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) two weeks ago, which would allow it to offer crypto services - including custody, trading, and portfolio management - to customers in the small country.

Similar Methods For Two Growing Exchanges

Regardless of who is seen as having the upper hand, Middle East expansion is a great move for both Binance and FTX. The two exchanges are among the largest globally, and their ability to move quickly underscores the desire of many in the industry to take crypto globally.

Changpeng Zhao, Binance's chief executive, has said that the exchange plans to expand into all regions of the world and invest in small businesses along the way. As he pointed out, the goal is to improve economic development in these regions while also tying these businesses together through cryptocurrency integration.

As for FTX, the company's desire to spread crypto services remains strong. FTX is currently in the midst of a massive growth stage following a further $400 million capital raise in January - and another $400 raise for its American subsidiary, FX.US. The exchange's goal is to build out an immersive ecosystem that covers every facet of the industry - whether through developing products from the ground or investing in companies.

Both companies appear to be adopting similar strategies as they grow. Their entry into the Middle East - a complex region that appears to be warming up to crypto - will be interesting to watch as market participants look to bring crypto to one of the wealthiest regions in the world.

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