Following the success of Binance and its introduction of big tech executives into the country, Dubai is looking to further establish itself as a cryptocurrency hub.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest from employees at traditional financial institutions,” said Richard Teng, head of Binance’s Middle East and North Africa region. “We’re actually recruiting some of them.”
A recent hire includes former BNY Mellon banker Vishal Sacheendran, who is now Binance’s Middle East and North Africa director in the UAE. Robbie Nakarmi joined the firm late last year as a senior advisor in Dubai after nearly a decade as an M&A lawyer.
The rise of crypto investment funds
Outside of Binance, financial professionals have also been making their way into the crypto space.
In 2017, Bank of America alumni Ahmed Ismail and Chris Flinos founded digital currency investment bank HAYVN in Abu Dhabi. Ismail recounted how several banker friends recently left to start crypto investment funds.
After 16 years, Amir Tabch, the former head of global markets at the UAE investment bank, left traditional banking to become the current CEO of Abu Dhabi DeFi broker Securrency Capital. Tabch is currently looking for more bankers to help “bridge” the gap between traditional and digital finance.
Ismail also stressed that the environment in the UAE makes it particularly conducive to making the leap.
“It all starts at the top,” Ismail said. “We are witnessing a major push in the UAE to develop a world-class infrastructure and regulatory environment for crypto companies to thrive and call home.”
Is Dubai a new crypto hub?
Binance recently established a de facto headquarters in the UAE. According to Changpeng Zhao, the company’s chief executive, by any common interpretation, Dubai has become the company’s headquarters.
In March, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume received a license to operate in Dubai, following a similar approval from Bahrain. It has since expanded its presence in the UAE following further approvals in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE’s crypto-friendly policies have also attracted many similar crypto funds and exchanges.
Rival exchange FTX became the first cryptocurrency exchange to beat Dubai ahead of Binance’s approval. Crypto trading platforms Crypto.com and Bybit have since followed, announcing expansion plans on March 28.
Dubai-based BitOasis was also approved, with CEO Ola Doudin commenting on the government’s commitment to creating a safe operating environment.
While prioritizing security, the UAE government has also been working to create a pro-business atmosphere for crypto companies. So far, these efforts have proved enough for cryptocurrency hedge fund Three Arrows Capital to relocate its headquarters from Singapore to Dubai.
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