Crypto derivatives exchange Bybit is moving its global headquarters to Dubai from Singapore, in another sign that the Asian city-state is losing its lustre as a leading destination for the industry while Dubai positions itself as digital asset hub.

Bybit said is making the move after receiving in-principle approval to conduct a full spectrum of virtual asset business in Dubai, under the Emirate’s “test-adapt-scale” virtual assets market model.

The news was announced at a joint press conference with the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy at the World Government Summit 2022.

“Bybit’s decision to open its global headquarters in Dubai is a milestone in our efforts to position the UAE as a global digital hub,” H.E. Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s minister for foreign trade and talent attraction and retention.

“Virtual assets such as cryptocurrency and blockchain have changed finance forever. To stay ahead in this fast-changing industry, we are building a business-friendly ecosystem with robust regulations to attract, retain and enable high-growth companies – this is paying dividends in terms of the next generation FDI (foreign direct investment) we are seeing coming in.

“This will create jobs and investment opportunities and consolidate our position as one of the world’s most attractive places to live and work for those in virtual assets and web 3.0 industries.” 

“Bybit looks forward to contributing to the virtual assets innovations of the Emirate’s vibrant economy and having our global headquarters in Dubai,” said Bybit co-founder and CEO Ben Zhou.

“I believe we could help further stakeholders’ understanding of this complex industry as the virtual assets space continues to rapidly mature.

“This in-principle approval is an extraordinary opportunity for Bybit to support the UAE and the wider region’s ambition to become a global virtual assets technology hub.”

Moving from Singapore

Founded in March 2018, Bybit describes itself as one of the fastest-growing crypto exchanges, with peak daily trading volume of US$76 billion in May 2021.

It claims to be the third most digitally visited virtual asset business in the world, and says it has 6 million customers across 150 countries.

Bybit said it would commence its operations from Dubai next month and had already begun hiring talent and transferring its existing team there.

“Our multiple offices around the world in Asia, Europe, South America and Pacific Ocean regions will remain,” Zhou told Stockhead via a publicist.

“As an employer, Bybit is centered around our employees’ needs and career choices. We have not set any target number for relocation and all Dubai positions will be open to applicants regardless of their current location and based on merits.”

The exchange has over 500 employees listed on Linkedin, with most located in Singapore, which has had a reputation of being particularly crypto-friendly.

But Singapore’s central bank issued guidelines in January discouraging crypto trading by the general public, sending shockwaves through the industry and causing crypto ATM companies to shut down. It’s been very slow to license crypto-related service providers, with Sydney’s Independent Reserve one of the few to get approval.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried told Australian Blockchain Week last week that Australia had the chance to claim the title as APAC’s leading regional crypto hub, a position long held by Singapore.

Regulatory clarity cited

“Bybit is committed to bringing world-class virtual assets services to customers globally including Singapore,” Zhou told Stockhead.

“We have always been open to constructive conversations with the regulators in Singapore and this remains the case as businesses and policymakers continue to shape the future of crypto in Singapore.

“Regulatory clarity is an important consideration for any business in this emerging sector.

“We appreciate it takes time and sometimes trial-and-error to establish a clear and innovation-friendly framework and we are fully aware of the challenges regulators face.”, which moved headquarters from Hong Kong to Singapore last year in the hopes it’d be a more crypto-friendly destination, also announced on Monday that it would set up a regional headquarters in Dubai.

“ is focused on establishing a significant presence in the (Middle Eastern) market and will be launching a substantial recruitment drive in the coming months to achieve this goal,” the company said in the announcement.

This post has been updated with comments from Zhou