Binance also got a crypto licence in Dubai under the same programme Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

FTX, a major cryptocurrency exchange, said it received a virtual-asset licence in Dubai and will set up a regional headquarters in the city.

FTX Europe, a division operating in Europe and the Middle East, is among anchors in the Dubai World Trade Centre. The firm will offer “complex crypto-derivatives products with centralised counterparty clearing to institutional markets,” CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said in a statement.

Binance also got a crypto licence in Dubai under the same programme, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The UAE is seeking to attract some of the world’s biggest crypto and fintech companies.

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“The certainty and credibility that Dubai assures in its adherence to these commitments allows FTX to safely pursue its overall strategy of scaling towards becoming the first virtual-asset service provider to enter global markets in a fully regulated manner,” Patrick Gruhn, head of FTX Europe, said in the statement.

FTX reached $32 billion valuation after raising $400 million in a Series C round announced in January. Founded nearly three years ago, it has become one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, in part through marketing such as a Super Bowl ad. It is pushing to gain institutional clients through a new unit.

As crypto exchanges increase exposure in the Middle East, Binance Holdings Ltd also said it received a license from Bahrain's central bank to be a crypto-asset service provider in the kingdom.

The license, granted following an in-principle approval in December, marks the first regulatory approval for a Binance entity within the Middle East. It will allow Binance to provide crypto-asset trading, custodial services and portfolio management to customers under the supervision of the Bahrain regulators. Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao announced the decision in a tweet Monday.

Bahrain, the Gulf's smallest economy, has been one of the Middle East's early adopters in the digital assets space. Binance's move underscores its increased focus on the Middle East. Founded in China in 2017, Binance has also been in talks to potentially set up a headquarters in the UAE, Bloomberg News has reported.