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OKX set for expansion in the UAE after VARA license

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Popular cryptocurrency exchange OKX has for long had plans to expand its operations in the UAE. It has now been given provisional regulatory authorization by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA).

With a provisional virtual asset license, the crypto-exchange would provide goods and services to local financial service providers and pre-qualified investors. In fact, earlier in June, the cryptocurrency exchange had announced its aim to hire 100 locals.

The implementation of VARA was announced in March by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. This new cryptocurrency law offers a legal framework for the exchange of digital assets.

Plans to open regional hub

In addition to obtaining the crypto-license, OKX intends to establish a regional center in Dubai. It will act as the division’s headquarters for the Middle East. According to Regional General Manager Lennix Lai’s statements, the platform intends to promote the developing digital asset ecosystem in the Emirates as well.

“The MENA region is one of the fastest-growing markets for our industry, and we are very excited to be at the heart of this thriving ecosystem. OKX looks forward to contributing meaningfully to the free exchange of ideas that is going to be so important to the development of this space while innovating for the future in a regulated framework.”

OKX isn’t the only exchange to get such a license, however. Major platforms including FTX and Kraken have each obtained a cryptocurrency license in Dubai, according to reports.

The region is reportedly becoming a growing jurisdiction for cryptocurrency enterprises as a result of the UAE’s resolve to foster crypto-innovation and strengthen its virtual currency ecosystem.

Along with having a presence in Dubai’s commercial center, Binance is also present in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

Several cryptocurrency exchanges and companies stepped up their operations in Dubai following the introduction of VARA.

So, what comes under VARA?

Crypto-exchanges and businesses that have received VARA approval are required to adhere to the market model of testing, adapting, and scaling. A constrained selection of exchange goods and services are initially available to pre-qualified investors and licensed financial service providers. After that, VARA monitors the markets before allowing other retail investors access.


Jibin Mathew George is Editor-in-Chief at AMBCrypto. A domain expert in International Relations (European Politics), he has always been a believer in the unlimited possibilities afforded by blockchain and by extension, cryptocurrencies. As someone who has been watching and writing about this space for over 5 years now, Jibin has closely tracked the emergence of cryptos and digital assets as a separate asset class in portfolios world over. A lawyer by training, he previously contributed to the News and Research desk of Diplomacy & Beyond Plus. Before his stint at D&B, he was Editor at ED Times. Jibin also takes a great interest in politics, especially the corresponding effect political decisions and fiscal policy have on the world of finance, with a special focus on cryptocurrencies.
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