Cryptocurrency exchange Binance is open for business in Bahrain.
The world’s largest crypto exchange by volume said in a Monday (Jan. 16) press release it has launched binance.bh, a platform that allows users in Bahrain to access Binance’s products and make deposits and withdrawals in local currencies.
The latest Binance expansion was welcomed by the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Economic Development Board, according to the release, and comes just days after the exchange’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, announced plans to continue hiring, despite billions of fund withdrawals in the wake of the FTX crypto contagion sell off.
“The launch of their platform reaffirms Bahrain’s position as a leading hub for crypto assets, blockchain and FinTech innovations, not just in the region but around the world,” said Khalid Humaidan, CEO of the board, in the release.
PYMNTS wrote last year that Bahrain was a pioneer of the concept of the “regulatory sandbox” in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, creating an environment that lets businesses experiment with new ideas.
Aside from Bahrain, other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region have launched their own FinTech sandboxes. The central banks of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have all enabled exploratory regulatory environments while the Central Bank of Oman has put the item on its to-do list.
Binance, meanwhile, has spoken of expansion in the midst of a wave of crypto layoffs and increased scrutiny for the industry.
Speaking at a crypto conference last week, Zhao said the company plans to increase its workforce by 15% to 30% this year.
“We will continue to build and hopefully we will ramp up again before the next bull market,” Zhao told an audience at the Crypto Finance Conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
His comments came during what turned out to be a brutal week for the crypto sector, with three high-profile exchanges announcing staff cuts.
Crypto.com said Friday (Jan. 13) it would reduce its global workforce by 20%, following earlier layoff announcements from Blockchain.com (which cut 28% of its staff) and Coinbase (which carried out a 20% reduction in headcount).
As PYMNTS noted, it’s been a “choppy start” to 2023 for crypto, as “millions of customers are out of their entrusted money and thousands are out of a job as a wave of alleged fraud, market contractions, regulatory scrutiny and company downsizing continue rolling in.”
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