Dubai: Ola Doudin, the founder and CEO of the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the Middle East, has said she hopes that BitOasis will be fully licensed in the financial centre Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) before the end of this year.
Currently, the UAE has no formal regulation governing cryptocurrencies or crypto exchanges like BitOasis.
In June 2018, the ADGM announced it would establish a framework to regulate spot crypto asset activities, including those undertaken by exchanges, custodians and other intermediaries based in its financial centre.
Since then, Doudin said, the company had been “working closely with the regulators,” the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FRSA).
“We’re hoping to be one of the first regulated exchanges to get that licence,” she said.
Doudin was speaking at the annual Step Conference in Dubai on Wednesday morning.
“Hopefully that happens this year,” she added. “It’s a very extensive process, and a well-thought-through process.”
Bitcoin, a digital currency, saw its value rise by 1,824 per cent from January 1, 2017, to December 17, 2017, briefly reaching a record high of $19,783 (Dh72,653).
The interest in cryptocurrencies saw a corresponding spike, which at one point saw BitOasis taking up to seven days to process account verification requests, due to the sheer volume of new applicants from across the Middle East.
“What’s important is having full licences, and taking action to work with existing players to a path of full regulation,” Doudin said.
“I want to give credit to the ADGM, [and] to the FRSA team,” she added, “for taking action and putting the first crypto asset exchange framework, that allows companies to get fully regulated and serve the wider market.”
The move to fully licence digital currency exchanges would act as a “launch pad”, Doudin said, “for crypto exchanges like us to get regulated, and go global from the UAE.”
“That gives us a competitive advantage to operate inside of the wider Mena region.”
In January 2018, Doudin told Gulf News that BitOasis had been actively engaging with the UAE and other regional regulators, and has received a “positive” response regarding the licensing of digital currencies and exchange houses.
Around the same time, reports emerged that Emirates NBD had stopped allowing customers to make transfers to blockchain-based trading platforms over concerns about money laundering.
Emirates NBD denied that this was the case.