OKX has become the first global crypto exchange to receive a full VASP license from Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority VARA. The license remains non-operational until OKX fully satisfies all remaining conditions and select localisation requirements defined by VARA, following which it will be able to commence operations, subject to regulatory reverification and approval.
OKX is the sixth biggest crypto exchange globally by market share according to CoinMarketCap (today).
The Seychelles Company OKX is already registered in Hong Kong and Malta. OKX announced the establishment of its Hong Kong entity (OKX Hong Kong) in March 2023 for the purpose of applying for the VASP license and operating as a virtual asset trading platform in Hong Kong. Currently, OKX’s enhanced app allows Hong Kong users to buy, sell and hold 16 major cryptocurrencies while benefiting from the highest standards of security, trading technology and risk controls comparable to those of traditional exchanges in the market.
In the United Kingdom, OKX had worked to comply with new crypto asset regulations that went into effect on 8 January 2024. From that date, new local regulations were enacted regarding the marketing and promotion of cryptocurrency services. In a statement published on 2 January, OKX said that it is developing a new user experience that is compliant with the requirements set out in the Financial Promotions Regime.” The new rules, enacted by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), aim to ensure crypto promotions are fair, clear, and not misleading.
But it is their recent license in Dubai UAE that has gained global attention as it is their first fully regulated entity. Speaking to Cryptopolitan Rifad Mahasneh, General Manager of OKX MENA discusses the future of OKX in UAE and MENA region.
According to Mahasneh, the license in Dubai UAE is a very important milestone for OKX. As he explained, “We are very excited to announce that the VASP License in Dubai, once operational, will allow OKX Middle East to offer regulated virtual asset exchange services activities including spot and fiat trading services, AED deposits and withdrawals, and spot trading-pairs. These services will be available to retail and institutional users.”
OKX lists more than 16,000 cryptocurrencies on its exchange.
Mahasneh believes that being the first of the top 10 global crypto exchanges to receive a license in UAE is a game changer for OKX.
He explains, “As a pro regulation exchange, we’ve been a leader in the field of transparency, and I believe we’ve set a standard in the industry when it comes to Proof of Reserves. This license is a testament to our efforts and commitment to upholding the highest standards of compliance and security in the cryptocurrency market. It solidifies our position not only as a pro-regulation exchange but also as a pioneer in fostering trust and reliability within the industry.”
The GM also praises the Dubai regulator. He states, “Throughout this process, VARA’s clear guidelines ensured adherence to high standards of compliance and security. This collaboration between OKX and VARA underscores the importance of well-defined regulations in promoting responsible growth in the cryptocurrency industry.”
Global Law firm Norton Rose Fulbright’s UAE office had announced sometime back that they were advising OKX on their entry into the UAE market. At the time Fulbright stated that they had assisted OKX among others with negotiations and the signing of the MOU with VARA, and would continue to assist with the licensing process and market entry.
OKX license will be followed most probably by licenses for Binance, crypto.com and possibly Bybit, who are listed on VARA’s registry as in the process of receiving a license. Already local crypto brokers and exchanges have received licenses in the past months, including CoinMENA and M2 based out of Abu Dhabi.