Binance has withdrawn an application for an Abu Dhabi license, the latest sign that the giant crypto exchange is reassessing its global structure as regulatory pressures mount. The Binance unit, called BV Investment Management, pulled the application with Abu Dhabi’s financial regulator on November 7, a spokesperson for Binance said on Thursday. The spokesperson added that the withdrawal was unrelated to the company’s settlement with US authorities last month, which included a $4.3 billion fine.
Earlier this year, Binance was granted an in-principle approval by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM). The IPA would allow the company to operate as a full broker-dealer in digital assets with additional permissions for asset management and other financial services. The company would also be able to service a broader range of customers than the currently-serviced GCC region.
The ADGM IPA is the first step in a two-step process that requires the company to satisfy more requirements before the FSRA will grant it a full license. But it’s unclear if the company will pursue that route, particularly in light of its ongoing settlement with the US. A full Binance license would allow the company to handle far more cryptocurrencies, including the world’s biggest bitcoin, currently trading for about $11,000 per coin.
During the last decade, Binance has expanded from its base in China to operate in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere as the popularity of cryptocurrencies has grown globally. However, the firm’s meteoric rise has led to increased scrutiny by regulators and other authorities worldwide, resulting in multiple setbacks for the exchange in recent years.
Following its agreement with US prosecutors, Binance restructured itself, appointing an experienced regulatory executive as CEO. Richard Teng, a former head of Binance’s regional operations, is tasked with steering the company through an increasingly uncertain regulatory environment.
Teng has indicated that Binance is considering adopting a conventional corporate structure, which would involve naming a headquarters and providing greater financial transparency. He has also stated that the firm is still committed to the Middle East, where it has been pursuing regulatory approval.