Dubai could be crypto’s promised land, Citi says

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A top-down approach when it comes to for­mu­lat­ing cryp­tocur­ren­cy pol­i­cy is help­ing Dubai emerge as the go-to des­ti­na­tion for the indus­try when it comes to set­ting up shop in the emi­rate, a senior bank­ing offi­cial told Forkast in an exclu­sive interview. 

“You had very clear mes­sages top down from the rulers of the coun­try that we’re going to try to reg­u­late this,” Ronit Ghose told Forkast.

“ADGM (Abu Dhabi Glob­al Mar­ket) in Abu Dhabi, in Dubai, there’s a vir­tu­al asset reg­u­la­tor that’s been announced recent­ly,” the Glob­al Head of Bank­ing, Fin­Tech & Dig­i­tal Assets for Citi Glob­al Insights said. “They’re putting in place frame­works to allow regulation.”

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Ronit Ghose, Glob­al Head of Bank­ing, Fin­Tech & Dig­i­tal Assets for Citi Glob­al Insights

Dubai and its neigh­bor­ing emi­rate of Abu Dhabi have been on a tear when it comes to cryp­tocur­ren­cy ser­vice providers mov­ing the core of their oper­a­tions there. 

The cofounders of Binance-backed Indi­an cryp­tocur­ren­cy exchange WazirX recent­ly moved to Dubai, accord­ing to uncon­firmed reports. Crypto.com and Bybit have set up bases in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, with Binance win­ning cryp­to licens­es in Dubai days after FTX won a sim­i­lar approval. 

“There’s a pro-future or a pro-tech­nol­o­gy agen­da,” Ghose observed. “Larg­er economies, larg­er sys­tems, they’re like oil tankers … and these are small places that, like a start­up or a speed­boat, can move faster.”

It also helps that in com­par­i­son with some oth­er coun­tries, it is rel­a­tive­ly easy to set up a busi­ness, Ghose said. 

“I’m talk­ing gener­i­cal­ly com­pared to many coun­tries. You can just look at the stats, the num­ber of days, the num­ber of hours spent,” Ghose said. “So the process of incor­po­rat­ing a busi­ness is rel­a­tive­ly easy.”

And though it is still ear­ly days, the process is rel­a­tive­ly stream­lined com­pared to pre­vi­ous years, Ghose said. “It’s not per­fect yet, but it’s a great sort of first few steps,” he said. 

Also, a mature han­dling of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic also helped attract top-lev­el tal­ent, he added. “So many Web3 and cryp­to founders from India have moved there, but also Chi­na, Rus­sia, West­ern Europe, the U.K.”

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