FILE PHOTO: A representation of the cryptocurrency is seen in front of Binance logo in this illustration taken, March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
March 31, 2022
By Lisa Barrington and Riham Alkousaa
DUBAI (Reuters) – Binance, the largest crypto exchange by trading volume, is recruiting over 100 positions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is helping to shape Dubai’s new virtual assets’ regulations, its regional head said.
Binance’s links with the Gulf state have deepened in recent months as the UAE tries to style itself as the world’s new digital assets hub and develops regulation.
“It is a very progressive framework and we are very happy to be part of that process, working very closely with the Dubai government,” said Richard Teng, Binance’s MENA head. “I wish more regulators globally adopt this approach that Dubai has – a public-private sector partnership.”
The UAE’s crypto push comes as international authorities voice growing concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies in money laundering and other crimes.
The UAE in March was put on a ‘grey list’ of jurisdictions under increased monitoring by financial crime watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Binance, since its founding in 2017, has faced scrutiny from governments and financial watchdogs assessing the wider cryptocurrency industry which had thrived in a mostly unregulated environment.
“Binance upholds global standards on anti-money laundering, in terms of global sanctions, in terms of KYC (Know Your Customer),” said Teng.
The firm is currently recruiting for more than 100 UAE positions, Teng said and LinkedIn vacancies show, after being licensed by Dubai’s new virtual assets regulator this month.
CEO Changpeng Zhao is a regular visitor to the UAE and has said he bought a home last year. The firm is also helping Dubai’s financial free-zone develop a virtual asset ecosystem.
But Teng would not say whether Dubai was to be a headquarters.
Binance says it does not have a headquarters and does not identify which entity controls its main exchange, although Zhao has said he wants to establish a number of regional centres.
“Definitely Dubai is a very important hub that we are looking at to consider different options going forward,” he said, adding “internal deliberations” continued about where Binance’s base would be.
Dubai, one of the UAE’s seven emirates and the region’s trade hub, in March issued its first digital assets law and formed the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA).
It recently licensed Binance and fellow global heavyweight FTX Europe and companies such as crypto.com are setting up offices.
Teng took the MENA role in December, moving from a short stint in Singapore where Binance late last year withdrew its application to be licensed under a new regulatory regime.
Authorities had previously warned Binance could be in breach of local laws and should stop providing payment services to Singapore residents.
(Writing by Lisa Barrington#; Editing by Mark Potter)