OKX, formerly known as OKEx, has secured a provisional virtual assets licence to operate in Dubai. The Seychelles-based cryptocurrency exchange has obtained the approval from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (Vara).
The in-principal approval allows OKX to conduct a spectrum of virtual assets business under the initial regulatory phase of VARA, which serves as the single custodial entity mandated to license and govern crypto activities in Dubai. This includes offering exchange products and services to pre-qualified investors and professional financial service providers under strict oversight and mandatory FATF compliance controls.
To get access to the retail market, OKX will be progressively monitored in stages alongside all licensed VARA service providers.
“The Middle East and North Africa region is one of the crypto industry’s fastest-growing markets, and we are proud to meaningfully contribute to its free exchange of ideas and future regulatory framework. Dubai is also a pioneer in the virtual asset industry, and we are excited to participate in its sound compliance framework and development,” OKX said.
OKX’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 earlier in May, 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.
“As a proponent of sound regulation, we will engage in constructive dialogue to advance regulatory and legislative dialogue while facilitating research and the sharing of knowledge to promote Dubai as an industry hub,” the exchange added.
OKX has recently expanded its curious sponsorship deal with soccer giant Manchester City. The exchange was named the club’s official training kit partner for the 2022-23 season.
Financial terms of the expanded deal were not shared. However, industry sources told Forbes that the crypto sponsorship will net the world’s sixth-most-valuable soccer team more than $20 million this season.