Exclusive Banking & Finance Mena is Binance’s fastest growing region for institutional investors By Sarah Townsend January 20, 2023 Reuters/Costas Baltas Zhao Changpeng, founder and CEO of Binance: the crypto exchange is growing in the region Adoption of Binance tech up 34% State initiatives like Dubai Metaverse Strategy driving interest in cryptoIndustry had tough 2022, with bitcoin down 65% and public trust low Binance reported a 34 percent rise in the number of new Middle East and North Africa institutional investors adopting its cryptocurrency technology during the last quarter of 2022, the highest growth of all regions. The world’s largest crypto exchange attributed the results to strong appetite for digital banking and financial solutions in the region. This was aided by government initiatives such as the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which targets $4 billion of extra gross domestic product from technology and Web3-based business by 2030. Binance CEO says ‘shaken’ crypto market needs ‘a lot more’ scrutinyDubai crypto chief predicts a $200k Bitcoin by 2024 Web3 describes an emerging iteration of the internet, incorporating the concepts of blockchain technologies, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, token-based business including cryptocurrencies, and other digital tools. “The market developing around the Web3 industry is one that will become a global hub for investors in digital assets,” said Richard Teng, regional head of MENA, Binance. “We see huge untapped depth in the regional market for crypto and are glad to be among the first movers. “Growth is driven by appetite from customers in the region to access innovative banking and financial solutions, which makes it an attractive hub for crypto industry players such as Binance to set up operations.” Binance’s VIP and institutional segment includes financial institutions, family offices, and high net worth individuals. The company recorded quarterly growth in new institutional clients adopting its technology in Q4 in all regions, but at 34.2 percent Mena’s was the highest – above Russia and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) at 24 percent, Asia-Pacific (excluding China) at 17 percent, Latin America at 16 percent, China at 15 percent, Europe at 14 percent, and the US at 11 percent. Globally, Binance recorded 65 percent growth in its VIP and institutional business in 2022, according to the company’s end-of-year operations report published on Tuesday. It expects to see further growth in the Middle East in the year ahead, as people become more educated on crypto and blockchain (the technology enabling cryptocurrency transactions), and regulations improve. In addition to institutional growth, Binance is finding “more and more consumers are joining the crypto revolution to embrace freedom and flexibility in the use of crypto for everyday purchases”. In 2023 payment companies will continue developing crypto-linked cards that allow consumers to use their cryptocurrency in transactions with merchants around the world, and businesses and financial institutions will also increase their integration of Web3 – both crucial steps towards mainstream adoption of crypto. The Binance.com exchange last year processed trades worth more than $22 trillion, according to Reuters, but the industry as a whole had a tough 2022. The price of bitcoin plummeted 65 percent since the start of the year amid high market volatility, forcing into bankruptcy many crypto firms including FTX, hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, and lenders BlockFi, Voyager Digital, and Celsius Network. Public trust in cryptocurrencies remains low with critics concerned about the industry’s lack of regulation and accountability, and its links with money laundering and other crimes. This week Binance was named as a receiving and sending counterparty in a charge against crypto exchange Bitzlato, which was accused by US authorities of laundering $700 million. There is no suggestion of criminal wrongdoing on Binance’s part, and the company said in a statement to trade website Coindesk that it “is pleased to have provided substantial assistance to international law enforcement partners in support of this investigation”. Teng said: “The decline in confidence in the sector, caused by a number of crises in 2022, may hinder the pace of widespread adoption. “At moments like this, education about virtual assets becomes even more important, as does regulatory compliance. Further engagement with regulators will be key for 2023, with efforts focused on consumer protection.” Re-establishing trust with the public will be a priority, and Binance is “committed to encouraging and facilitating safe and secure crypto adoption”. Binance was founded by chief executive Changpeng Zhao in China in 2017.