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DUBAI: Cryptocurrency exchange FTX said on Friday it was fully approved to operate its exchange and clearing house in Dubai, as the Gulf emirate pushes forward with plans to develop its digital asset sector.

The Bahamas-based company said it will start by offering regulated crypto derivatives products and trading services to institutional investors in Dubai as well as operate a nonfungible token marketplace and provide custodial services.

“Our license expands to retail customers as well, however, it will be a gradual scale up to ensure that we approach the retail market within the guidelines set by the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (Dubai’s sector regulator),” Balsam Danhach, chief executive officer of FTX Middle East and North Africa, told Reuters.

It said the services would be offered by FTX Exchange FZE, a subsidiary of FTX’s division in Europe and the Middle East.

The United Arab Emirates has been on a mission to become a hub for the virtual asset sector even as regulators elsewhere flag concerns over the technology.

Dubai also granted a virtual asset license to Binance to conduct some operations in the region, following which the crypto exchange has stepped up hiring in the city.

FTX first got a partial license from Dubai in March, when it said it would establish a regional headquarter in the city.

Danhach did not elaborate on if FTX had plans to expand and seek licenses elsewhere in the Gulf.

In recent months, FTX has been investing in struggling crypto firms that are reeling under pressure from a steep drop in the currencies.

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