Huobi, the world’s sixth-largest crypto exchange by trading volume, has received a provisional virtual asset license from the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), which was established earlier this year to regulate the industry.
The license will allow Huobi to participate in Dubai’s fast-growing digital asset ecosystem by operating native crypto services under full regulatory oversight and offering financial solutions to customers in new geographies.
Huobi said he believes Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates and the region’s business hub, is rapidly becoming a global hub for the virtual asset industry. Initially, the company will offer spot and over-the-counter (OTC) trading services to a limited subset of pre-qualified investors and professional financial service providers.
To access the retail market, Huobi will be gradually vetted alongside all licensed VARA service providers under strict supervision and mandatory FATF compliance checks.
“The Government of Dubai is committed to making the emirate a global hub for the future digital economy and to be at the forefront of financial innovation. Huobi is optimistic about the city’s potential and the future opportunities it offers,” said Lily Zhang, Chief Financial Officer of Huobi Group. “We look forward to working with VARA and other local authorities to further invest in Dubai and foster the growth of the virtual asset industry there.”
Huobi’s regulatory foray into Dubai comes as no surprise. After all, the emirate has one of the most progressive climates for digital assets in the world. In fact, the move was the latest in a string of approvals won by major crypto platforms as Dubai strives to become the regional hub for the digital asset industry. In separate announcements, OKX, FTX Europe, Bybit and Binance had received similar licenses to expand into the UAE.
Notably, the UAE was the first global economy to establish a specialized regulator for the virtual asset industry. Announced by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the emirate has enacted its first law governing cryptocurrency activities, and it has also formed an independent regulator to oversee the sector.
Huobi, a former ‘big three’ platform in China, has made inroads into new regions as it anticipates a 30% drop in revenue after completely ceasing business for mainland investors. Huobi also suspended Bitcoin mining services and mining equipment sales in China.