Huobi, the world’s sixth-largest crypto exchange by trading volume, had been given a provisional virtual assets licence by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), which was set up earlier this year to regulate the industry.
The licence will allow Huobi to participate in Dubai’s fast-growing digital assets ecosystem by operating crypto native services under full regulatory supervision and offer financial solutions to clients in new geographies.
Huobi said it believes that Dubai, one of the UAE’s seven emirates and the region’s business hub, is rapidly evolving into a global hub for the virtual asset industry. Initially, the company will offer spot and Over-the-Counter (OTC) trading services to a limited subset of pre-qualified investors and professional financial service providers.
To get access to the retail market, Huobi will be progressively monitored in stages alongside all licensed VARA service providers under strict oversight and mandatory FATF compliance controls.
“The Dubai Government is committed to turning the Emirate into a global hub for the future digital economy, and being at the forefront of financial innovation. Huobi is optimistic about the city’s potential and the future opportunities it offers,” said Huobi Group CFO Lily Zhang. “We look forward to working with VARA and other local authorities to further invest in Dubai and foster growth of the virtual asset industry there.”
Huobi’s regulatory foray into Dubai is not surprising. After all, the emirate has one of the most progressive climates for digital assets in the world. In fact, the move was the latest in a string of approvals secured by top crypto platforms as Dubai pushes to become the regional hub for the digital asset sector. In separate announcements, OKX, FTX Europe, Bybit and Binance had received similar licenses to expand into the UAE.
Notably, the UAE was the first global economy to have set up a specialised regulator for the virtual asset sector. Announced by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the emirate has enacted its first law governing cryptocurrency activities, and it has also formed an independent regulator to supervise the sector.
Huobi, a former ‘big three’ platform in China, has been making inroads into new regions as it anticipates a 30% revenue plunge after it has completely shut down its trading for mainland investors. Huobi also suspended Bitcoin mining services and sales of mining equipment in China.