In an interview with Forkast’s Maha Shah, Binance Abu Dhabi Senior Executive Dominic Longman shared insights into the burgeoning digital asset landscape in the United Arab Emirates. Against the backdrop of heightened regulatory scrutiny around the world, Longman clarified the distinctions between various Binance entities. And the continued development of the cryptocurrency space in the UAE.
Referring to the continued development of the UAE cryptocurrency space, Longman discussed the country’s unique regulatory approach, including innovative support from state entities, which bodes well for the region’s cryptocurrency future
This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.
Maha Shah: Can you share your insights on the digital assets and cryptocurrency scene in the UAE?
Dominic Longman: From a regulatory standpoint, there has been a lot of activity over the past few years. There has been a lot of focus on the cryptocurrency community since 2016, and that focus is accelerating because of government support and because it is a growth area, there is a lot of focus on this space.
There are still people who come here, land and stay here. It really is a self-supporting ecosystem. We have major players like Komainu, Zodia, Coinbase, and R3. It’s so exciting to be here now.
Shah: Can you shed some light on the SEC’s recent enforcement actions against Binance and Coinbase and their impact on the industry?
Longman: Just to clarify, Binance.US is an independent business. Binance Abu Dhabi is an independent entity focused on providing custody services to institutional clients. We remain committed to meeting regulatory requirements. We received a license in November and are now working with regulators to bring it into use. Obtaining a license and working closely with regulators will bring confidence to the market, attracting institutional players who are more willing to work with regulated entities. The regulation also benefits retail customers, ensuring their assets are protected.
Shah: Will the recent wave of lawsuits in the US affect your business in the US and lead to increased scrutiny from local regulators?
Longman: No, it’s just the standard information they ask for from businesses licensed here. Our regulators are constantly on the lookout for information, changes to governance structures, finances, new staff and new regulated individuals. I don’t see anything different because of what’s going on in the US right now.
Shah: Some cryptocurrency tokens are listed as unregistered securities in the US, including Cardano, Polygon, and Solana. Will there be spillover effects to other jurisdictions?
Longman: The SEC is currently going through this process, and the industry as a whole is trying to understand how they make these decisions about these virtual assets. If I look at the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), they have their own protocols and definitions to list any virtual assets. We’ve always looked at the U.S. as the country that sets the standards, but these various regulators have had their own claims over the years.
I know regulators have been looking globally, but they’re making a pretty strong claim here.
Shah: Is innovation moving from the US to jurisdictions like Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Hong Kong?
Longman: I can’t comment on the US, but I see some great innovative companies already emerging in the UAE.The region has government support such as Abu Dhabi Investment Office, they will seek to help the company and help them reduce costs, help them pay rent, but not necessarily acquire equity. As a founder, you may not even need to dilute yourself yet. Even Ras Al Khaimah just launched the new RAK DAO, designed to support innovation.