Binance processed $504 billion worth of spot trades of cryptocurrencies in January alone, according … [+]
Binance, which runs the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, said on Tuesday it has been granted a license to operate as a crypto asset service provider in Bahrain, strengthening the company’s foothold in the Middle East as its trading platform faces mounting scrutiny from financial regulators elsewhere.
“The license from Bahrain is a milestone in our journey to being fully licensed and regulated around the world,” Changpeng Zhao, cofounder and CEO of Binance, said in a statement. “I’m proud of the hard work of the Binance team to meet the stringent criteria of the Central Bank of Bahrain, not just locally but globally by ensuring that we meet and exceed the requirements of regulators and protect users with strong anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing policies.”
Binance said the license was the company’s first of its kind in the Gulf states. The regulatory green light will allow Binance to provide crypto asset trading, custodian services and portfolio management to customers, the firm added.
Binance, a Cayman Islands-registered company, has been shifting its focus in the Middle East as its massive crypto trading unit draws scrutiny from regulators in at least a dozen other jurisdictions, mainly focused on concerns over the firm’s anti-money laundering practices and investment risks posed to traders.
Early last week, Britain’s financial watchdog said it lacked the powers to access the “fitness and propriety” of the new beneficial owner of crypto asset custodian Digivault, after its Singapore-based parent company Eqonex entered a strategic partnership with the payments arm of Binance. The Financial Conduct Authority, which issued warnings to the exchange last year for operating without permission, said that its concerns over Binance have yet to be addressed.
Changpeng Zhao, cofounder and CEO of Binance.
Meanwhile, Binance has been moving quickly to expand its business in other parts of the world. The company on Monday announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding to buy Brazilian securities brokerage firm Sim;paul Investimentos. The firm is authorized by Brazil’s central bank and the securities market authority, Binance said. The acquisition, which will require the approval of regulatory officials, is intended to further expand Binance’s business in the South American nation.
In December, Binance also signed a cooperation deal with the Dubai World Trade Centre, which aims to establish an “international virtual asset ecosystem” and assist the development of crypto regulations in the United Arab Emirates.
Founded in 2017, Binance first started operating in China but later moved its headquarters out of the country as the government increasingly cracked down on cryptocurrencies. The firm quickly grew to become the world’s largest crypto exchange by a considerable margin, processing $504 billion worth of spot trades of digital assets in January alone, according to data provider CryptoCompare. Its business now also covers decentralized finance, payments, investment and education. (Disclosure: Binance recently announced a strategic investment in Forbes.)