Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has responded to reports that it has withdrawn its bid for an Abu Dhabi-based licence saying it had decided it was ‘not necessary’ as it assesses global licensing needs, and that it does not constitute a withdrawal from the emirate.

The world’s largest crypto exchange secured Abu Dhabi approval for crypto custody services in November last year from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

But after reports that it was reassessing its global structure as regulatory pressure mounts, a spokesperson said a licence, held by subsidiary BV Investment Management Limited, was the subject of voluntary cancellation due to being ‘not necessary’, but that it would be kept under review.

“Abu Dhabi has emerged as a leader in the virtual and digital assets ecosystem, a global hub that encourages innovation and responsible growth, while diligently guarding user interests,” the spokesperson said.

“We remain committed to continuing our work with regulators to provide world-class services and offerings in the Middle East and beyond.”

The spokesperson said Binance (AD) Limited still holds a financial services permission (FSP) to carry out the regulated activity of providing custody in relation to virtual assets, adding that the move did not constitute a withdrawal from Abu Dhabi.

Crypto exchanges are subject to separate regulations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

A spokesperson for Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) said the authority was unable to comment on regulators in other jurisdictions, but said there were no imminent changes to the exchange’s status in Dubai.

Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) pleaded guilty to US money laundering violations and resigned last month when the exchange was also fined $4 billion. He was replaced by its former global head of regional markets Richard Teng, also an ex-head of Abu Dhabi’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA).

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Brinda Darasha)