Rakbank, a bank in the United Arab Emirates with $14 billion in assets for their half a million customers, is facilitating the world’s first crypto trading in UAE’s local currency of dirhams.
Rakbank will become the first UAE bank to enable Kraken to offer transparent, efficient, dirham-based digital asset trading to their customers, the bank said.
“Investors in the UAE will soon be able to directly participate and invest in the crypto market,” said Benjamin Ampen, Managing Director for Kraken MENA.
Kraken has become one of the first crypto exchange to be regulated by the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the financial services regulator.
“Today, as an International Financial Centre, we are the leading jurisdiction in the region for the regulation of virtual asset activities and we strongly believe that this partnership is a step forward that confirms Abu Dhabi’s role as a catalyst for virtual-asset innovation,” said H.E Ahmed Jassim Al Zaabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market.
While previously UAE citizens would have needed a foreign bank account to access crypto trading, they will soon be able to fund their crypto account through local fund transfers from any bank in the UAE.
“The UAE is emerging as a global hub for the crypto and virtual assets industry. With this breakthrough solution, Kraken’s UAE-based investors will be able to transact in virtual assets transparently and efficiently through an ADGM-regulated crypto exchange that has the ability to convert between AED and crypto through UAE Central Bank-regulated banking channels,” said Raheel Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer of Rakbank.
Rakbank also offers sharia compliant banking, making this another stamp of approval for bitcoin and cryptos as sharia compliant assets.
UAE more generally has been one of the first adopters of cryptos, certainly in the region, where Dubai has led numerous crypto and blockchain related initiatives.
Just recently they held one of the biggest crypto expo in the world with more than 10,000 visitors attending.
While Kraken is one of the oldest crypto exchange and holds the fairly rare title of never having been hacked, sharing it with only Coinbase among long established crypto exchanges.
Their move into Dubai may well set UAE as the regional crypto hub spot, with only Istanbul having the capability of challenging the title.
The Turkish government however has shown itself to be slightly less than neutral towards cryptos, though generally remains very hands off, with their decision to ban bitcoin payments.
UAE’s government, in contrast, has been enthusiastic towards cryptos. Presumably they see it as part of what makes Dubai, Dubai: futuristic new gold, new money, new finance, and the pinnacle of man’s achievements, so far.
This decision by their regulator and their bank to embrace cryptos further cements that strategy of willing tomorrow.