Binance reevaluates MENA strategy, retracts Abu Dhabi fund management bid

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The major cryptocurrency exchange Binance withdrew an application for certain operations in Abu Dhabi, according to a recently updated filing.

The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is the regulator responsible for the request, which took effect on Nov. 15, 2022, and was withdrawn on Nov. 7, 2023.

On its website, Binance states that the regulator permitted it to manage a collective investment fund — that is, a fund that pools assets from multiple clients or sources. However, Binance also states that it can only offer the service once it meets the relevant conditions. ADGM’s conditions require Binance not to hold or control client assets or work with retail clients.

Binance also states that ADGM has permitted it to offer custody services. That filing was submitted on Nov. 15, 2022, and has not been withdrawn. Once again, the conditions of this application require Binance not to serve retail clients.

Binance previously seemed to be focused on Abu Dhabi as part of its strong Middle East and North Africa (MENA) presence. In April 2022, The company gained, in principle, approval to operate as a full broker-dealer in Abu Dhabi. Reuters noted that the company was hiring over 100 positions in the area around that time.

Withdrawal is unrelated to U.S. issues

A Binance spokesperson provided a statement to CryptoSlate, writing:

“When assessing our global licensing needs, we decided this application was not necessary. Abu Dhabi has emerged as a leader in the virtual and digital assets ecosystem, a global hub that encourages innovation and responsible growth, while diligently guarding user interests.”

The spokesperson additionally said that the company is committed to working with regulators in the Middle East and elsewhere. When asked, they did not specifically state whether retail services are or will be available in Abu Dhabi.

In a separate report from Reuters on Dec. 7, a spokesperson said that Binance’s decision to withdraw the application is unrelated to a recent investigation settlement with various U.S. agencies. That settlement coincided with the resignation of now-former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.

Reuters’ contact also noted that the filings were withdrawn by a Binance unit called BV Investment Management, a fact confirmed by the company’s website.

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