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StanChart-Backed Zodia Markets’ Co-Founder Applauds Abu Dhabi’s Crypto Regulators, Calls Out UK’s Lag

Shalini Nagarajan
Last updated: | 2 min read
Zodia Markets’ Exec Applauds Abu Dhabi’s Crypto Regulators

Zodia Markets’ co-founder, Nick Philpott, praised Abu Dhabi’s crypto regulations, emphasizing the “remarkable” degree of interaction with regulatory authorities in the region.

Philpott contrasted his experience in Abu Dhabi with the UK’s regulatory environment, noting the latter’s process is significantly slower with more complex requirements.

“There were long delays in terms of entities getting their registrations with the Financial Conduct Authority under the anti-money laundering laws,” he told Cryptonews in an interview Thursday.

Similarly, he noted that Ireland’s central bank had just as much of a cautious approach. While the number of approved entities may have reached the low double digits, it remains relatively low there.

“So we found those processes to be quite slow,” the co-founder added.

FCA Resource Constraints Hinder UK Crypto Approvals

Philpott noted that parliamentary committees attributed the delays in the UK to the high volume of applications, many of which lacked sufficient quality. He also acknowledged the FCA’s resource constraints in processing these applications.

However, he empathized with the UK regulators. Philpott said it is a challenge to retain experienced staff, as the private sector often offers them more attractive opportunities, leading to a constant need for training and knowledge building within the FCA. As a potential solution, he suggested an openness to the idea of higher compensation for regulators.

Abu Dhabi Regulator’s Collaborative Approach Wins Zodia Over

In contrast, Abu Dhabi’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) demonstrated a high level of responsiveness. Philpott highlighted their prompt communication channels, indicating that inquiries received swift replies, even regarding complex ideas.

He further emphasized the FSRA’s proactive approach, recalling how it quickly initiated Zodia’s licensing process within two weeks of initial contact. He characterized the overall experience as “very engaging.”

“They know their subjects. You can have very open and collaborative conversations with them, particularly around slightly unusual things,” he said.

Zodia Envisions Combining Standard Chartered FX with Crypto

Zodia began its regional search in about Oct. 2021. At that time, Dubai was engaged in consultations regarding its crypto regulatory framework. The firm identified Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) as a regulator with experience in overseeing certain counterparties, including mid-chains.

With the establishment of Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), Philpott acknowledged the importance of securing a physical presence within the Emirate.

“Standard Chartered is a major bank in the UAE. So we have a great opportunity to take their foreign exchange, combine it with crypto, and provide it to our institutional clients,” he said.

Philpott relocated to Abu Dhabi last month from the UK, where he co-founded Zodia Markets and subsequently assumed the role of Head of Partnerships. Prior to this move, he held various positions at Standard Chartered for about 16 tears.

He joins Zodia’s existing team in the UAE, comprising chief risk officer Mark Matthews, chief technology officer Officer Giovanni Miano, and Ayad Butt, who leads saeles and trading across the Africa and Middle East regions.

He further observed the extensive construction activity in Abu Dhabi, which he views as a testament to the city’s ongoing development and its “huge potential” for growth.