Rain, the Bahrain-based cryptocurrency exchange, has received permission from the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate regulated virtual assets brokerage and custody services in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In a statement, Rain said that ADGM’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority granted it “financial services permission”. The licence enables Rain ADGM to offer institutional and some retail clients in the UAE the ability to buy, sell and store virtual assets. It will also allow Rain ADGM to offer a regulated ‘on-ramp’ of UAE dirhams into virtual assets. On-ramp refers to the process of exchanging fiat currency for cryptocurrencies.

Rain’s co-founder and CEO, Joseph Dallago, said on Twitter that the licence was part of a five-year effort, and that Rain was one of the first exchanges to enquire about licences when the ADGM released its virtual asset framework in 2018.

Headquartered in Bahrain, Rain became the first licensed virtual assets service provider in the Middle East in 2019 and is regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain. The company offers customers the ability to buy and sell digital cryptocurrencies, as well as custodian services.

Founded in 2017, Rain is backed by US venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, as well as by Coinbase. In January 2022, it raised $110m in Series B funding. The company has customers across the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa.

Rain will join other crypto companies in the UAE including Binance, the world’s largest exchange, which is based in the country. Another exchange, Gemini, is also expected to launch activities soon in the Gulf state.

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Over the past few years, the UAE has positioned itself as global hub for crypto and digital assets. These moves include legislative frameworks as well as accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment in areas such as real estate and school fees.