Central Bank of Bahrain Licences First Sharia’a-compliant Cryptocurrency Exchange – Coin-MENA – as its First Digital Assets Footprint in the GCC

Another sign that digital asset and exchanges are slowly getting traction in the Islamic finance space is the recent issuance of a licence by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) to CoinMENA to operate a cryptocurrency exchange.

The licence issued under the ‘Crypto Asset Services Company License – Category 2’ paves the way for the exchange to start operations within the country.

CoinMENA which is headquartered in Bahrain, describes itself as “a Sharia’a-compliant digital assets exchange that is licensed and regulated by the CBB. Through CoinMENA, you can buy, sell, store, and receive digital assets safely and securely, as well as deposit and withdraw in your local currency.”

The CBB register confirms the licence, the only one of its kind to date, although another licence under the ‘Crypto Asset Services Company License – Category 3’ was issued to Rain Management W.L.L. in July 2019.

CoinMENA in January 2021 appointed Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB) as an outsourcing facility to manage and supervise the Sharia’a certification and Sharia’a audit services for its digital asset platform.

The platform, says Dina Sam’an, Co-Founder & Managing Director of CoinMENA, was created to help investors at both the retail and institutional level identify business opportunities for digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple that meets the investor’s own standards around long-lasting returns.

“Getting certified as Sharia’a-compliant is another milestone in CoinMENA’s dedication to client excellence and becoming the leading blockchain and digital assets company in the MENA region”, she added.

CoinMENA, in addition to Bahrain, is building a presence in Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE and Kuwait. Aimed at both retail and institutional investors, CoinMENA will offer, upon launch, five major cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

It will also provide an “OTC Desk”, along with a dedicated relationship manager who will see every trade through to execution. When it launches in the first half of 2021, the platform and services will be available to residents of Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman.

“Obtaining the license from the Central Bank of Bahrain allows us to operate under one of the most robust and globally-renowned digital assets regulatory frameworks where governance, security, and customer protection are central to all our operations,” added Dina Sam’an. The aim is also to provide access to additional digital assets and expanding the jurisdictions the platform operates in.

“Seeking the Sharia certification and working with SRB, which has extensive experience working with Fintech firms, allows us to increase our focus on the private Islamic investors’ space by offering them a universe of stable Sharia’a-compliant digital assets with the potential of growth and low volatility,” explained Dina Sam’an.

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