Middle East is about to get its first central bank-licensed cryptocurrency exchange, courtesy of Rain Financial. After spending a year in the Bahrain regulatory sandbox, where projects are monitored before they receive licenses, Rain is ready to launch in early 2019. Rain Financial has already opened its public waiting list, CoinDesk reported. The company aims to offer an institutional platform similar to Coinbase Pro as well as a brokerage for retail crypto investors. The exchange was co-founded by Abdullah Almoaiqel, a blockchain consultant from Saudi, and Yehia Badawy, an Egyptian investor, along with their business partners Joseph Dallago and AJ Nelson. Rain Financial will be the first cryptocurrency exchange of its kind in the Persian Gulf. The crypto market is not very popular in the region and only a few residents participate officially. Despite Dubai being a pioneer in blockchain-based smart city applications, there's still a shadow of doubt hanging over cryptocurrency. However, Badawy noted that a lot of crypto investors in the region are waiting for the right regulations and partners to be put in place before investing. He told the crypto news outlet, "We are here to fill this demand, with institutional-grade infrastructure." According to the Rain co-founder, the crypto exchange has spent months educating regulators about the standards it aims to follow such as the know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) standards applied by Western exchanges. The sandbox environment also allowed Rain to explain to the Central Bank of Bahrain how it would operate and how it aims to limit damages should something go wrong. Also, the exchange has teamed up with several banks, ensuring that it can support all local Gulf currencies. Crypto experts believe that the chances of Rain\u2019s platform succeeding are quite high. Khalid Saad, CEO of Bahrain Fintech Bay, told CoinDesk that Rain has a potential of becoming the first officially regulated crypto exchange in the region, noting that the startup is \u201cthe most advanced and the closest to graduating\u201d from the regulatory sandbox.