Crypto exchange VALR looks to enter Dubai market

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 28 Sept 2023
Farzam Ehsani, co-founder and CEO of VALR.
Farzam Ehsani, co-founder and CEO of VALR.

VALR FZE, a subsidiary of local crypto-exchange VALR, is set to expand its operations to Dubai.

This, after the exchange received initial approval from Dubai's Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA).

Established in 2018, VALR says it has processed over $10 billion in trading volume and has raised $55 million since launch.

The firm offers its customers the ability to trade Bitcoin and a range of other virtual assets. According to the exchange, VALR now serves over half a million retail customers and over 900 corporate and institutional clients from across the globe.

In SA, VALR competes against Luno, Ovex, Revix and AltCoinTrader, among others. The company was co-founded by its CEO Farzam Ehsani, former blockchain lead at Rand Merchant Bank.

Earlier backers of VALR include early-stage start-up investor Michael Jordaan, who is former CEO of big-four bank FNB.

In a statement yesterday, VALR says building on its successful track record in South Africa, the company aims to replicate its products and services on a global scale, reaching a broader audience from Dubai.

It notes the initial approval granted to VALR FZE does not allow it to undertake any virtual asset services yet, but is a critical step as it seeks to establish a virtual asset exchange in Dubai. It also affirms VALR’s position as a “reputable player in the virtual asset industry, committed to upholding the highest standards of operational integrity, compliance and security”.

VARA, established in March 2022 under the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Law, is the world’s first independent regulator for the virtual assets sector.

Obtaining initial approval from VARA marks a major step forward in VALR’s global expansion plans, says the crypto-currency exchange.

“For the past five years, VALR has been working closely with regulators to inform regulatory frameworks that protect the public, while allowing responsible innovation to flourish,” says Ehsani.

“This initial approval from VARA is a significant milestone for VALR to bring our products and services to a more global audience under the auspices of a world-leading regulator.”

VALR head of growth Blake Player says: “We see Asia, the Middle East and the UAE as attractive markets with significant crypto flows. Dubai is quickly gaining recognition as a forward-thinking and pragmatic jurisdiction for crypto businesses.

“Setting up in Dubai provides an excellent opportunity to serve the regional market and a global customer base from a crypto and business-friendly jurisdiction."