Arabian Bourse (ABX) is going to be an Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) based, fully regulated, crypto-asset MTF and custodian, targeting global institutional and retail traders. The exchange is spearheading the vision to build sustainable growth for investment strategy protecting investor interest in cryptocurrencies. In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Arshad Khan, Co-founder, and CEO of Arabian Bourse says that with global momentum, picking up for bitcoin and other virtual assets, investor protection becomes very critical
Tell us more about ABX and its plans for the region?
ABX has received in-principal approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM. ABX has chosen to be based in ADGM, Abu Dhabi, because of the enlightened crypto asset regulatory framework, rapidly growing crypto-asset industry in the region, concentration of global financial institutions, and a trusted regulatory regime. ABX expects to bring in the crypto asset holders, partnerships, additional technology opportunities, and related strategic investment via their comprehensive ecosystem in the Blockchain space. The long-term vision of ABX is to be the leading institutional-grade digital assets exchange and custodian in the region and a major player globally with a fully integrated ecosystem that will allow it to become a preferred venue for digital asset listing, trading, and settlement with associated custody and data services.
Why are digital markets important?
A digital market is a 24/7 market with the real-time settlement, in which digital assets traded bring issuers and traders directly together. Fewer intermediaries lead to lower costs and hence higher liquidity. Digital marketplaces are built on Blockchain and all trades are transparent as ownership can be traced. Also, with major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin becoming increasingly traded, the number of institutional investors entering the cryptocurrency market is steadily increasing. Institutional investors are increasingly seeing crypto as an asset class, this can bring diversification depending on their risk appetites, return objectives, and investment strategy. There is an increasing need for regulated institutional-grade exchanges trading digital assets as well as related post-trade processing infrastructure.
Your comments on why and how the crypto market is gaining traction globally?
Recently, analysts at Morgan Stanley said that with the large decline in the dollar, deeply negative real yields, and continued policy uncertainty, investors have been looking for alternatives to traditional cash holdings. Innovation in digital assets continues rapidly and will likely drive increased institutional participation over time and hence you can see a drive on a larger scale to possess virtual assets. Big corporates and celebrities like Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, Jay-Z have openly expressed their support for this emerging eco-system.
What kind of safety measures are required to protect investors?
Ensure that market is not misused in any way by any person for committing any form of financial crimes or violations from any country. Misrepresentation is another issue that investors should be careful about. Its important to educate the investors on how to identify and deal only with regulated exchanges and/or brokers and how not to be misled by certain entities who claim themselves to be regulated which many times is not true. Similarly, its important for investors to understand the difference between a broker and an exchange, as both these businesses are very different in nature, regulations, fees and product offerings. Where the said entity is regulated and how strong the regulatory framework is also an important consideration. Contact details and office address should be available. Investors should do their homework on these basic points before opening accounts and transferring money.
Can you suggest some good AML practices for the exchanges?
Register those individuals and or entities as customers whose identity and activities can reasonably be established to be legitimate. It is mandatory to collect and record all required information of customers. Ensure that it does not provide services for or on behalf of any individual or entity known or suspected for committing any financial crime by the UN Security Council or on the sanctions list and by any applicable authority. Assisting regulatory authorities in identifying attempts at money laundering, co-operating with the financial investigation department, financial crime prevention unit, and any other government agency involved in combating any form of financial crime. Creating effective, efficient, and sustainable AML compliance control programmes along with effective transaction monitoring is the core objective of any regulated exchange.
Can you share some insights on your recent participation at the Capital Club series on changing landscape in business today?
The ‘Changing Landscape of Business ownership in the UAE’ series aimed to simplify the various laws and regulations for business owners and entrepreneurs in Dubai. The panelist highlighted the Commercial Company Law and how ultimate beneficial owner (UBO), Economic Substance Regulations (ESR), smart data, sustainability, and digital transformation is at the helm of all the change taking place in the business ecosystem. The panel was shared by Dr. Anuraag Guglaani Ph.D., UHY James Chartered Accountant Partner; Hala Bou Alwan, Founder, Hala Bou Alwan Consultancy; and Deepak Ahuja, Chief Revenue Officer, Sehteq.
The UAE enjoys an internationally recognised reputation as a business hub, with the government backing it up with world-class infrastructure, free zones, ports, state-of-the-art airports, and cargo hub, amongst others. The entrepreneurs in the UAE enjoy strong support from the UAE government as it is evident that the nation is listed among the most business-friendly destination. According to a World Bank report on “ease of doing business rankings”, the UAE was ranked 11th in 2019 and 16th in 2020.