Cryptocurrencies are decentralized digital assets that you can use as virtual currencies. Often, a distributed virtual ledger known as blockchain remains in the backend of a cryptocurrency’s operation. You can trade cryptocurrencies at virtual marketplaces known as cryptocurrency exchanges or crypto exchanges, in short. As typical banks, financial institutions, or government regulatory bodies do not govern cryptocurrencies, people living in some countries may run into difficulties while trading cryptocurrencies due to a lack of legal framework.
The situation was similar in the UAE. However, in 2018, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), one of the largest financial centers and regulatory bodies located in Abu Dhabi, established its first framework for the legalization of owning and trading virtual assets. Since then, ADGM has been acting as the regulatory authority for crypto exchanges operating in the UAE.
As a continuation of the cryptocurrency legalization and to facilitate broader use of cryptocurrency, the local government of Dubai, UAE, has formed the Virtual Regulatory Authority (VARA) in March 2022 to oversee all cryptocurrency exchanges and other digital assets.
Cryptocurrency exchanges let you buy and sell cryptocurrencies and connect your cryptocurrency wallet. Each exchange has different pros, cons, features, and fee structures. Some are aimed at beginner users, while some are equipped with highly technical and advanced features aimed at professional and frequent traders.
A good number of international crypto exchanges and quite a few regional ones support trading cryptocurrencies in the UAE. This article will introduce the major crypto exchanges of the UAE along with their comparative pricing structure and features.
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What is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrencies are virtual money without any central authority to control their trading and value system. Introduced in 2009, Bitcoin was the pioneer of cryptocurrencies and, so far, the most well-known one.
Legal frameworks related to cryptocurrencies are still evolving in many countries. Many regulatory bodies across the globe are still in a dilemma with whether to legalize cryptocurrencies as money. Yet, millions of companies are already accepting and making payments through cryptocurrencies.
Due to this wide-scale and growing popularity, the global cryptocurrency industry achieved an accumulated market value of USD 1.78 trillion in 2021, reported Yahoo Finance. Moving forward, the market is expected to grow at a staggering 58.4% CAGR from 2022 to 2027 and reach USD 32.4 trillion by the end of 2027.
But does that make the cryptocurrency market a lucrative place for all investors?
Here’s the catch. Despite having excellent prospects and long-term growth potential, the market is highly volatile. Unlike fiat money, cryptocurrencies are not backed up by any physical assets. The market dynamics and perceived value determine the currency prices.
Thus, global trends, perceptions, news, and even tweets from celebrities play a dramatic role in the market in the short and middle-terms. That said, you cannot ignore the growth potential of this market to achieve a great return on your investment.
This is where cryptocurrency exchanges come into play. Forbes reported that the total number of cryptocurrency exchanges globally is nearing 600 as of March 2022. The exchanges let you keep an eye on the cryptocurrency market trend through advanced tools and trade currencies.
How To Buy Cryptocurrency In the UAE: Step By Step?
There are several ways for you to buy cryptocurrencies in the UAE. The easiest is to buy it from a broker if you want to pay through AED, the local currency of the UAE. For example, Coinsfera is a local broker that lets you buy different cryptocurrencies by visiting their physical store.
Alternatively, you can also choose from a range of cryptocurrency exchanges that offer competitive pricing and transaction charges. Almost all international exchanges accept credit cards, whereas some regional ones accept payment through wired transfer and debit cards as well. Here are the basic steps to purchasing cryptocurrencies in the UAE:
- Step 1: Create an account with a broker or crypto exchange.
- Step 2: Provide some personal information and proof of ID to verify your identity.
- Step 3: Deposit money into your account. You can do it through a connected crypto wallet or pay directly with your credit card or bank account.
- Step 4: Choose your desired cryptocurrency from the exchange and enter the amount you want to buy.
- Step 5: Make your payment.
- Step 6: Transfer your cryptocurrencies to a secure wallet.
Best Crypto Exchange UAE: Compared
Binance is a leading cryptocurrency exchange with over 90 million registered users globally. The exchange has one of the largest numbers of supported cryptocurrencies, with over 600 listed currencies. Binance has been informally supporting trading activities from the UAE for quite some time. However, it received formal approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of ADGM in April 2022.
- Support for a Large Number of Cryptocurrencies: Binance has listed over 600 cryptocurrencies and altcoins on its website. Thus, you will have a wide range of options available to choose from.
- Integrated Payment Gateway: Binance has its own integrated wallet and payment gateway known as Binance Pay. This lets you send merchant payments at zero fees by using over 40 cryptocurrencies.
- Binance Marketplace: You can buy many digital assets, amenities, and non-fungible tokens (NFT) directly from the Binance Marketplace.
- BNB Coin: Binance has its own cryptocurrency coin known as BNB. It allows you to send payments quickly at zero or minimal fees and discounts up to 25%. You can also store your coins in the Binance wallet.
- Trading Fee: 0.1%
- Minimum Deposit: $10
- Withdrawal Fee: 0.0002 BTC
eToro is a community-driven crypto exchange that encourages users to share their own investment strategy and win perks in return. Founded in 2007, the platform has a rapidly expanding user base of 25 million. With a minimum deposit of USD 25, equivalent to AED 91, you can comfortably buy your first cryptocurrency in the UAE from eToro.
Even if you are a beginner in the world of cryptocurrencies, you can still get the winning strategies shared by pro-investors. The comprehensive exchange also supports the trading of CFDs, Forex, symbols, and pairs.
- Copy Trading: eToro lets you copy the trading strategies of other users so that you can benefit from the more experienced users.
- Multi-Asset: You can trade various types of assets on eToro, giving you more freedom over your investment options.
- Security Certifications: The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – two top-tier financial regulators – have certified eToro.
- Zero Commission: If you do not apply for short or leveraged positions, eToro will not take any commissions for selected currencies.
- Trading Fee: 0.75% spread
- Minimum Deposit: $25
- Withdrawal Fee: $5 from converted fiat
Rain is a Bahrain-based cryptocurrency exchange from the Middle East that accepts payments directly in AED for UAE residents. Founded in 2019 with a license received from the Central Bank of Bahrain, Rain received a seed funding of $2.5 million. Blockwater, a cryptocurrency investment fund from Kuwait, and BitMEX Ventures led the funding round.
In compliance with the local regulations, Rain’s account verification process is lengthy and comprehensive. You will need to fill up your information in a detailed KYC form and submit your proof of ID when opening an account.
- Zero Trading Fees: Rain is one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges in the UAE to introduce zero trading fees for buying, selling, and swapping.
- Cold Storage: Rain keeps 98% of its all cryptocurrencies in a proprietary cold storage system to protect it from any data loss from cybercrimes or power disruptions.
- Portfolio Management: You will get an intuitive and detailed view of your portfolio from Rain’s portal, which is designed to help you with easier and faster decision-making.
- Rain Pro: Rain has recently introduced Rain Pro, a premium version of its trading platform with an advanced user interface for experienced traders and businesses.
- Trading Fee: Zero
- Minimum Deposit: $1
- Withdrawal Fee: $15
Kraken has received a full financial license from ADGM to operate as a cryptocurrency exchange and virtual trading assets group in the UAE in April 2022. With over 120 supported coins, Kraken is a good choice for both beginner and advanced investors due to comparatively lower trading fees and only a $10 minimum deposit requirement.
Experienced users can take advantage of Kraken’s spot and future trading facilities, whereas beginners will find the 24/7 personalized customer support very useful. Kraken also has earned a solid global reputation as a secure exchange as it strictly follows the FinCEN regulation in the USA.
- Support for All Popular Currencies: Kraken supports over 120 coins along with more than 50 trading pairs, so you will find your investments highly liquid.
- Kraken Pro: Kraken Pro offers an exceptional user experience to advanced and seasoned users. At the same time, the fee is much lower with Kraken Pro compared to its regular version.
- Comprehensive Solutions: Kraken offers comprehensive solutions for both entry-level users and institutional investors. The interface is intuitive, as reviewed by users globally.
- Guidance: Kraken houses a detailed blog and resource section on its website for all users.
- Trading Fee: 0.9% spread
- Minimum Deposit: $10
- Withdrawal Fee: 0.02%
With global coverage of over 180 countries and trading support for more than 30 major coins, Paybis is an excellent choice as a cryptocurrency exchange for beginners. As the minimum deposit is only $5, and the first transaction fee is commission-free, you can always try out Paybis to get your first experience in cryptocurrency trading.
- Quick Payout: You will have your BTC and other coins available in your wallet as soon as you transfer the payment.
- Security: While Paybis has integrated industry-leading security protocols, it does not slow down the platform. The comparatively faster security checks will only take minutes and will not keep you waiting.
- Easy Fee Structure: Paybis charges 2.49% as a trading fee and 0.99% as a withdrawal fee. The fee structure is straightforward to understand, even for those who are just getting their feet wet in the crypto arena.
- Well Regulated: Paybis complies with the financial security regulatory authorities based in the USA and the UK.
- Trading Fee: 2.49%
- Minimum Deposit: $5
- Withdrawal Fee: 0.99%
Crypto.com is one of the most trusted crypto exchanges, with over 50 million global users. It is a great choice if you are looking to maintain cryptocurrencies as a tool for everyday payments besides investments, as the exchange lets you have a crypto-based Visa card to get up to 8% cashback.
You can convert your cryptocurrencies into any of its supported 250+ coins and 20+ fiat currencies. At the same time, you will get up to 14% rewards on the balance of cryptocurrencies you hold. The reward is up to 10% per annum for stablecoins.
- Great Mobile Apps: Crypto.com has developed advanced and easy-to-use integration of all the necessary trading features so that you can trade on the go.
- Visa Card: The crypto-based Visa card lets you pay merchants and businesses without incurring any additional costs.
- Security: The platform has several security certifications, including SOC2 Type 1, ISO/IEC 27001:2013, ISO/IEC 27001:2019, and ISO 22301:2019.
- Fast: Crypto.com maintains a 2.7M TPS matching engine and 50-microsecond core latency to enable lightning-fast trading and payment transfer.
- Trading Fee: Maker/Taker: 0.4%
- Minimum Deposit: $2
- Withdrawal Fee: 0.0001 BTC
Founded in 2013, Coinmama is one of the pioneers among global crypto exchanges. Despite trading support for only ten major cryptocurrencies, it has expanded its operations in 188 countries globally. The platform is specifically designed as a beginner-friendly platform. Thus, customer support is interactive, prompt, and always available to help you with any technical issues.
- Several Payment Options: Coinmama accepts a wide variety of payment methods, including Visa and Master cards, SEPA, Apple and Google Pay, Skrill, and wired transfer.
- Spending Limits: The platform has a high spending limit of USD 30,000 at a time, making it convenient for pro-users and large investors.
- No Deposits Required: Unlike a few exchanges, you won’t have to keep any deposit with Coinmama to start trading. Instead, you can immediately receive coins after making the payment.
- Quick Verification: Coinmama’s verification process is quick but secure. You can set up your account in minutes.
- Trading Fee: Up to 3.9%
- Minimum Deposit: $50
- Withdrawal Fee: Zero
With support for more than 200 crypto and digital currencies, Cex.io is one of the most trusted names in the cryptocurrency industry, serving over 4 million registered users globally. Cex.io started its journey back in 2013, and since then, it has never lost any customers’ funds due to any security or other reasons.
Cex.io is a well-regulated crypto exchange complying with top-of-the-line international trading standards. The internal team rigorously checks and verifies every cryptocurrency before accepting it on their trading platform. Additionally, the interface is very easy to use and fairly straightforward.
- Payment Methods: Cex.io supports all major payment methods, including wired transfer (SWIFT, ACH, SEPA, faster payments), credit cards, and cryptocurrencies.
- Security: Cex.io is well-protected against common cybercrimes, including DDoS attacks, ransomware, and malware. Moreover, it has secure cold storage and full data encryption to safeguard the clients’ funds.
- API Solutions: The platform offers a comprehensive range of API solutions that are useful for institutional and business investors. These include REST API, FIX API, and WebSocket to facilitate automated trading.
- Customer Support: Cex.io provides 24/7 customer support to clients from all countries where it is available.
- Trading Fee: 0.25%
- Minimum Deposit: $20
- Withdrawal Fee: From 3% + $1.20
BitOasis is headquartered in the UAE and is one of few exchanges that accepts debit cards and money transfers through local banking channels from the UAE residents. You will get live pricing updates in AED, which is convenient for UAE-based local traders.
BitOasis supports over 40 major currencies with more than 90 trading pairs and has a minimum deposit requirement of only $5.
- Local Deposits: You can deposit funds to BitOasis from the UAE through any local banking channels.
- Trading Pairs: With over 90 trading pairs, it will be easier for you to do arbitrage trading and take advantage of the market movements.
- Secured: BitOasis has cold storage facilities to store your cryptocurrencies so that it always remains secure from cyber crimes and power outages.
- Mobile Apps: The trading platform has well-developed and feature-rich mobile apps available for both Android and iOS systems.
- Trading Fee: Maker/Taker: 0.24%/0.48%
- Minimum Deposit: $5
- Withdrawal Fee: .0005 BTC
Founded in 2019, Emirex is headquartered in the UAE and licensed in Estonia to take advantage of the easier regulations and taxation policies. The exchange has two separate licenses – one for providing cryptocurrency trading services and one for wallet service.
Emirex does not support a lot of coins. However, the firm has claimed to portray this as one of its advantages. The platform insists that they support coins that maintain the highest of security standards.
- Regulatory Compliance: Despite being a newer crypto exchange in Dubai, Emirex is ISO 27001 certified. At the same time, as it has been operating in the EU region, it complies to the EU regulatory frameworks as well.
- Payment Gateway: Emirex accepts payments through all typical fiat payment systems and lets you buy cryptocurrencies directly by paying with fiat money.
- Trading Functions: Major trading functions such as limit order, market, and stop-limit are available in Emirex.
- Security: Emirex portrays itself as one of the safest and fastest cryptocurrency exchanges in the Middle Eastern market.
- Trading Fee: Maker/Taker: 0.1%/0.1%
- Minimum Deposit: $5
- Withdrawal Fee: From 2.2% + $5
1. How do I start investing in cryptocurrency?
The first step of investing in cryptocurrency is to choose an exchange. You can buy cryptocurrency from individuals or local brokers in the UAE; however, exchanges typically offer more convenience. The convenience comes from better liquidity and security. That said, carefully research the fee structure and features before choosing the right exchange.
2. How much should I invest in cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a risky investment, and the market is highly volatile. The amount you should invest depends on individual risk tolerance and investment strategy. As a rule of thumb, investment strategists suggest keeping your crypto investment between 5% to 30%. In addition, you should not invest the money in the crypto market that you cannot afford to lose.
3. Does Coinbase work in the UAE?
Coinbase, one of the most reputed crypto exchanges, supports over 100 countries globally. However, the UAE is not one of them yet. Instead, you may opt for several other regional and international exchanges to buy and sell crypto in the UAE.
4. Is Binance legal in the UAE?
Binance has faced regulatory warnings in several countries. However, the exchange has received formal clearance from ADGM to operate in the UAE in March 2022. In addition, BNB, the native coin of the Binance exchange, has been granted permission from the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) of the UAE.
5. What is the best crypto exchange in the UAE?
Several regional and international exchanges offer their services to UAE citizens and residents. Among them, Binance is an excellent choice considering its recent expansion in the UAE and regulatory permission received from the authorities. If you want to pick a local or regional one, you can easily go with Rain and BitOasis. Crypto exchanges have their specific pros and cons, so you need to research before choosing the right one.