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Interview with OKX MENA GM as Crypto Exchange Secures VASP License

OKX Middle East Fintech FZE, the Dubai subsidiary of OKX, a leading cryptocurrency exchange and Web3 technology company, has announced the acquisition of a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license from the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) for VA Exchange Services.

While the license is currently non-operational, pending the fulfillment of all remaining conditions and localization requirements outlined by VARA, it marks a crucial step for OKX Middle East towards becoming an operational force in the region.

Once operational, the VASP license will empower OKX Middle East to expand its duly regulated virtual asset activities. It will enable the provision of spot services and spot-pairs to institutional and qualified retail customers through the OKX App and OKX.com exchange.

Tim Byun, OKX Global Head of Government Relations, said: “Dubai and VARA are world leaders in crypto regulation by establishing the most timely, comprehensive, and built from-the-ground-up framework for virtual assets and Web3. This license was a crucial step for OKX as we move from a trust-based system to one that is trustless and empowers users to take control of their financial future. Dubai is an important market for us, and we’re excited to build strong relationships with our users and contribute to the development of its crypto and Web3 ecosystem.”

On another note, according to OKX, it aims to provide users with enhanced levels of consumer protection by trading on a regulated platform under VARA’s supervision in Dubai.

Thoughts of Rifad Mahasneh, GM of OKX MENA

Commenting on the matter in an exclusive interview with UNLOCK Blockchain, Rifad Mahasneh, General Manager of OKX MENA, shared insights into the transformative developments unfolding in the crypto industry, particularly in the UAE, as OKX secures a VASP license from VARA.

Mahasneh emphasized the fundamental values of security and reliability that constitute the bedrock of OKX’s reputation. He highlighted how these principles align seamlessly with Dubai’s rigorous regulatory framework, symbolized by the collaborative approach of the licensing process with VARA.

According to Mahasneh, the collaboration with VARA reflects a commitment to a robust rulebook, ensuring compliance with industry standards, including consumer protection, trading, and anti-money laundering (AML) requirements. He stated, “Regulation brings in with that security aspect that you mentioned. This is a clear objective of ours when we went after the law and license.”

Describing the process with VARA, Mahasneh emphasized the collaborative and tailored approach adopted by VARA to meet the unique needs of each platform. He expressed confidence in the efficiency of the process, stating, “It was a process built on feedback. It’s a two-way process, and that’s how they managed to build a very robust rulebook.”

Upon receiving the VASP license, Mahasneh outlined the forthcoming plans for OKX Middle East, focusing on fulfilling the remaining conditions before going live. He shared, “We’re actively working on fixing these conditions so we can go live. And then in the short next few weeks or the immediate imminent future in the next few weeks, we’re going to be offering services to both retail and institutional users.”

Speaking on custody solutions, Mahasneh highlighted OKX’s commitment to user choice. He mentioned partnerships with third-party custody providers and the encouragement of self-custody. He commented, “We believe it’s a user’s choice, but from our side, our custody is up to the highest standards that we’ve seen in the market.”

The interview provided insights into OKX’s operational focus, emphasizing transparency through proof of reserves reports and the added layer of regulatory compliance in Dubai. Mahasneh stated, “Proof of reserves is a theme that we’re very proud of, and we’ve consistently pushed out proof of reserves reports monthly.”

The conversation then extended to OKX’s plans for ecosystem building in Dubai, leveraging collaborations with other regulated players in the market for infrastructure issuance.

Moreover, the GM expressed excitement about activating synergies with partners like Man City and McLaren, stating, “This license is sort of the ultimate or the additional layer that we’re happy to add to make our platform differentiated from others.”

Mahasneh concluded the interview with an optimistic view of the future of the cryptocurrency industry. He emphasized OKX’s commitment to technological evolution and increasing adoption. He stated, “We as a platform are bullish on this industry. We truly believe in this industry.”

Walid Abou Zaki

Walid is is the founder of Unlock Blockchain, a prominent resource for blockchain and cryptocurrency news. With a career spanning over two decades in the media sector, he has been at the forefront of emerging technologies and digital transformation. Since 2017, Walid has focused his expertise on the blockchain and crypto space, becoming recognized as one of the leading opinion influencers in the MENA region

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