Binance withdraws Abu Dhabi license application

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance withdrew its application for an operating license in Abu Dhabi on November 7, according to a company spokesperson.

Binance’s unit, BV Investment Management, submitted the application a year ago, aiming to manage a collective investment fund. However, it pulled the request last month, citing a reevaluation of its global licensing needs and deemed that the application “was not necessary.”

The move comes after Binance founder Changpeng Zhao stepped down as CEO following his guilty plea in a U.S. anti-money laundering case. Binance agreed to pay over $4.3 billion to settle the investigation. Despite this, the company maintains that the withdrawal of the Abu Dhabi license application is “unrelated” to the settlement.

The United Arab Emirates has been actively promoting itself as a digital asset hub and remains a crucial location for Binance. The company has also heavily invested in the region, recruiting over 100 employees in Dubai and actively shaping its crypto regulations.

New CEO Richard Teng recently confirmed that Dubai is the company’s Middle East and North Africa headquarters. He also announced that the location of Binance’s global headquarters will be revealed “in due course” but declined to provide further details.

Global regulatory challenges

Binance has been facing regulatory hurdles across multiple jurisdictions this year. In Germany, the cryptocurrency exchange withdrew its application for a license. It also pulled back from Cyprus and announced its departure from the Netherlands. In Belgium, financial regulators ordered the company to cease operations, but it countered by establishing a Polish entity to serve its Belgian clients.

Binance’s retreat from Cyprus was motivated by a desire to focus on “fewer regulated entities in the EU” before the implementation of the European Union’s crypto asset regulations. The company has targeted France, Italy, and Spain in its expansion strategy.

Further restrictions have been imposed on Binance in other regions. The UK has barred the cryptocurrency exchange from accepting new users. Binance has opted to sell its operations in Russia.

Additionally, Australian regulators revoked the financial services license of Binance’s derivatives business. Last week, the Philippine securities regulator also initiated proceedings to block Binance’s operations in the country.

Despite these challenges, the crypto exchange company has said via a spokesperson that it remains committed to collaborating with regulators “to provide world-class services and offerings in the Middle East and beyond.”

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