Following the announcement of Coinbase launching its global derivatives platform, key executives from the United States-based crypto exchange have been meeting with industry leaders and policymakers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In a recent blog post, Coinbase stated that its Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong and other executive team members planned to discuss the UAE’s potential as a strategic hub for the exchange. As part of the expansion efforts into the region, the company is working with regulators in the Abu Dhabi Global Market and Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority.
Armstrong expressed enthusiasm at the Dubai Fintech Summit on May 8, stating that the UAE’s position is exciting as an international hub for Coinbase, potentially serving not only the Middle East but also parts of Africa and other Asian countries. He pointed out that the United States is somewhat lagging in terms of regulatory clarity for digital assets.
Despite Armstrong’s criticism of regulatory clarity in the US, he assured shareholders in a Q1 earnings call that he has no plans to move operations outside the country. In the Coinbase blog, the UAE region is highlighted as a leader in the development of a Web3 ecosystem, making it an attractive location for potential investments. The blog also mentions that the regulatory gap left by other jurisdictions has resulted in international counterparts, like the UAE, racing to fill the void.
It is worth noting that prior to receiving a Wells notice from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Coinbase officials, including Armstrong, had met with US policymakers to discuss crypto regulations in the country. According to chief legal officer Paul Grewal, the firm had meetings with SEC representatives “more than 30 times over nine months” but largely did not receive feedback on its proposals.
Meanwhile, the UAE has been progressively opening opportunities for crypto firms, seemingly aiming to attract capital and jobs to the region. Dubai established a legal framework for cryptocurrencies and set up the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority in March 2022, taking advantage of the Emirate’s free-trade zones with separate rules and regulations.
While the collaboration between Coinbase and UAE regulators demonstrates the growing need for an international regulatory framework surrounding cryptocurrencies, skeptics may argue about the practicality of establishing a global crypto hub in the region. Nonetheless, the ongoing discussions between Coinbase and UAE authorities are likely to bring further regulatory clarity to the crypto space, ultimately benefiting both established businesses and new entrants in the market.