Kraken has shut down its office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as it struggles with plummeting trading volumes amid the bear market.
The American exchange has been hard hit by dwindling trading volume in the past year, and last December, it announced layoffs for 30% of its employees, blaming “macroeconomic and geopolitical factors.”
As Bloomberg now reports, the closure of the Abu Dhabi office is part of this restructuring. The exchange will also lay off about eight people focusing on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
However, the exchange will retain some employees based in Abu Dhabi. Benjamin Ampen, the managing director for the region, will stay on at the firm to assist with the transition, but he’s expected to exit the exchange soon after.
Kraken also suspended trading in the UAE currency, the dirham or AED, but stated that its clients in the UAE would still be able to access its platform. Customer deposits in the AED will automatically be converted to USD and can then be withdrawn, a spokesperson for the exchange told the media.
“Kraken regularly reviews its business lines to ensure we’re employing resources globally to best achieve our mission of accelerating the adoption of cryptocurrency,” the spokesperson said.
The exchange leaves the UAE less than a year after obtaining a license in its bid to expand to the Middle Eastern market. In April, Kraken was granted the license to operate in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). At the time, managing director Curtis Ting was optimistic and claimed that the region “is ready and they’ve been waiting for a regulated offering like ours.”
The Abu Dhabi exit comes just a month after Kraken announced it was leaving Japan. In a December 28 blog post, the exchange said it would deregister with the Financial Services Agency as “the resources needed to further grow our business in Japan aren’t justified at this time.”
These headwinds come at a time when the exchange is transitioning from over a decade under the leadership of founder Jesse Powell. The controversial CEO stepped down after describing working at the exchange as “less fun and draining,” probably because the days of the ‘Crypto Wild West‘ are behind us and authorities are demanding a professional and regulated approach by VASPs.
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