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Cryptocurrency exchange Bybit announced on Monday that it’s shifting its headquarters from Singapore to Dubai on the same day that Crypto.com said it would establish a regional hub office there. The announcements come as Dubai has rolled out new legislation that’s aimed at making the emirate a global center for crypto assets and related industries like the metaverse.
Bybit has received an in-principle approval to conduct a “full spectrum” of virtual asset businesses in Dubai, the company said in a statement. Its new head office is expected to begin operating as early as April.
“Bybit looks forward to contributing to the virtual assets innovations of the emirate’s vibrant economy and having our global headquarters in Dubai,” said Ben Zhou, cofounder and CEO of Bybit. “This in-principle approval is an extraordinary opportunity for Bybit to support the United Arab Emirates and the wider region’s ambition to become a global virtual assets technology hub.”
Meanwhile, Crypto.com said it is looking to establish a “significant presence” in Dubai. The company, which first started in Hong Kong but later moved its headquarters to Singapore, added that it will be launching a substantial recruitment drive in the coming months.
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Bybit and Crypto.com are two of the leading platforms in the crypto space. Founded in 2018, Bybit processed more than $10 billion worth of crypto spot and derivatives trades over a 24-hour period as of Tuesday, according to tracker CoinGecko. Crypto.com, which started operating in 2016, handled more than $5 billion worth of spot and derivatives trades during the same period.
The announcements by the two firms follow Dubai’s approval of a new law that regulates virtual asset businesses including trading and custody services in early March. However, it didn’t specify the coverage of virtual assets, which usually includes cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
The new regulation is part of the United Arab Emirates’ drive to become a global crypto hub. It has already attracted the likes of the world’s largest crypto exchange Binance, which won a license in mid-March to operate its regional business from Dubai. The European affiliate of crypto trading platform FTX has also announced that its regional office will be there.
Bybit and Crypto.com’s moves also come as Singapore is tightening its regulatory grip on cryptocurrencies. The city-state opened its door to crypto firms with a licensing regime in January 2020, but later restricted them from advertising their services to the public.
Singapore’s authorities said earlier that it had received 170 applications for crypto-related services providers, but less than 10 licenses have been awarded so far. More than 100 companies have been turned down or withdrawn their applications, according to Nikkei Asia, citing official figures. Among them is Binance, which announced in December its Singapore affiliate had withdrawn the application. (Disclosure: Binance recently announced a strategic investment in Forbes.)