Tall buildings in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Swiss-based digital currency bank Sygnum expands offering to the Middle East

Swiss-based digital currency bank Sygnum has launched a new operations center in the Middle East as part of its expansion efforts.

News outlet Zawya confirmed that Sygnum’s new hub is based in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), a free trade zone focusing on digital currencies. The report added that Sygnum’s focus on high-net-worth-individual (HNWI) in the oil-rich region.

Sygnum’s offerings will be concierge-styled for wealthy individuals that are specifically tailored to the risk appetite and demands of its clients. Plans to expand into the Middle East have been in the works since October 2022, when the digital currency bank obtained approval from the ADGM to operate in the country.

“With 35% of the UAE population already invested in the local $25 billion crypto market and over 1,400 crypto organisations locally-based, Abu Dhabi has the potential to become a future regional and international hub for Web3, metaverse and blockchain-based projects,” Sygnum said.

Digital currencies have been on the rise in Abu Dhabi and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Dubai leading the way. The establishment of a new licensing regime and a regulatory body opened the floodgates for several international digital currency firms to seek registration in Dubai.

Seeing Dubai’s remarkable success, Abu Dhabi is keen to follow the same path with the ADGM leading the charge. In February, the ADGM announced a $2 billion fund for startups experimenting with Web 3 and blockchain technology which the trade zone says will assist in attracting key global players to the region.

Sygnum’s ambition to seek out wealthy clientele in Abu Dhabi is considered a reachable goal with the city’s deep pool of high-net-worth individuals. A study from Henley and Partners noted that the region is home to 13 billionaires and over 60,000 millionaires.

“We believe that Sygnum’s regulated finance offering in Abu Dhabi is a significant addition to our community and will contribute to the growth of the region,” ADGM’s Chief of Markets Arvind Ramamurthy noted. “As the largest regulated jurisdiction for digital assets in the MENA region, ADGM acts as a catalyst with the right tools that enable the growth of such companies within the UAE’s financial sector.”

UAE pulls away from the pack

The UAE has emerged as the undisputed leader in digital currency adoption in the Middle East, roping the biggest players to set up shop in the Gulf nation. The metrics reached by the country are a concerted effort from the government and strategic collaborations with the private sector.

In October, the UAE opened a replica office of the Ministry of Economy in the metaverse as part of efforts to drive adoption, offering various functionalities to visitors. The government is also making significant strides with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with the country’s Minister for Foreign Trade Al-Zeyoudi, confirming that a proper legal framework for digital currencies is in the works.

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