Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange, has received initial approval from the Central Bank of Bahrain to be the service provider of crypto assets in the Gulf country, Bloomberg reported.
Binance still needs to complete an application process, CEO Changpeng Zhao wrote in an email to Bloomberg News.
If successful, this will mark the first regulatory approval for the cryptocurrency exchange in the Middle East and North Africa. Binance is expanding its regional presence, as executives prepare to set up potential headquarters in the Gulf countries.
Bahrain has been one of the Middle East’s early adopters of digital assets. The Gulf’s smallest economy approved the first licensed crypto-asset platform in the region, Rain Financial, in 2019, and granted another license to Manama-based CoinMENA earlier this year.
As part of the new online security laws of the UAE that come into effect on Jan. 2, 2022, online cryptocurrencies fraud promoters face up to five years in prison and a fine of more than $270,000.
These laws aim to protect internet users from electronic fraud, to preserve privacy and personal rights, Bitcoin.com reported.
While the UAE already had laws banning the promotion of cryptocurrencies, according to Hassan Elhais of Al Rowaad Advocates, these laws lacked provisions enabling authorities to penalize any such offenders.
“As per Article 48, posting misleading ads or inaccurate data online about a certain product will be punishable with jail and/or a fine between $5,445 and $136,100. The same penalty applies to members of the public who promote cryptocurrencies unrecognized by authorities in the country,” Elhais said.