Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are in the early stages of their development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. And with the growing acceptance of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies by Islamic scholars and sharia compliance organizations, the adoption of these technologies by companies, governments, and the general public is increasing.
We can easily verify this fact since, in the last five years, the number of exchanges in the MENA area has been increasing significantly – at a slow but sure pace – and a great explosion of growth and adoption is expected thanks to the participation of governments and banks in this region.
For that reason, we’ve put together our list of the Top 6 Middle East Crypto Exchanges for you to explore so that you can research what exchanges may be good for you if you reside in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Let’s take a look…
Rain is a reputable Middle East cryptocurrency exchange whose offices are located in the kingdom of Bahrain. It is the first exchange licensed by a central bank in the region – Central Bank of Bahrain or CBB – that offers users the options to buy, sell, exchange and store crypto assets.
Currently, the exchange offers its services for countries located in the Arabian Gulf region, including Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, and its offer of crypto assets is currently limited to only four: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin.
Regarding fees, for purchase and sale operations, Rain charges 1.5% when payments are made via bank transfers and 4% for payments made by credit card.
On the other hand, it isn’t necessary to pay any fee for deposits or local withdrawals through transfers, nor for storage of your crypto-assets in your wallet on the platform.
Security is another aspect that stands out in Rain, as it is a regulated exchange that requires going through AML/KYC verification procedures when registering. In addition, 98% of the funds are stored in cold-storage wallets. However, Rain is a custodial wallet that maintains control of private keys, something that is not to the liking of many crypto enthusiasts. As in the words of Antonio Antonopoulos, “Not your keys, not your bitcoin”.
Rain is also Cryptocurrency Security Standard (CCSS) Level III compliant, and it also offers support for two-factor authentication (2FA) and more.
Customer support is available 24/7 and has proven to work quite well, responding via live chat or email within a maximum of 48 hours. And in case you are a beginner, the platform offers a lot of help articles that you can easily access online.
Rain also offers personalized attention for clients with large capital providing over-the-counter or OTC service and has mobile apps for Android/iOS and it has been approved by the Sharia Review Bureau (SRB) as a Sharia compliant platform.
CoinMENA is another of the large fully regulated exchanges that provide services for the purchase, sale, and custody of cryptocurrencies in a reliable, safe and convenient way. CoinMENA is headquartered in Bahrain and is fully regulated by the Bahrain central bank as a Category 2 financial services provider.
The exchange serves Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, and Oman; countries in which investors can make deposits, trading, and withdrawals in local currency.
Regarding the offer of crypto assets, this is currently limited to 9, including the most popular ones such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The offer will expand over time, according to the exchange’s directive.
The fees to pay for the different operations are variable, but the exchange offers interesting discounts the higher the volume of the transactions.
The basic fee scheme is as follows:
- Deposits in fiat currency: bank 0% – credit card 3.5%
- Bank withdrawals in fiat currency: variable by country.
- Crypto deposits: 0%
- Crypto withdrawals: 0.25%
- Trading fee: 0.75%
In the security aspect, CoinMENA complies with the standard, requiring to go through AML/KYC procedures when registering, in addition to offering storage of crypto assets in cold storage.
In case you need any kind of help, you can contact customer support by ticket, email or consult the exchange’s knowledge base.
Of course, being a highly reputed and regulated exchange, CoinMENA has also been certified as Sharia compliant by the SRB, in addition to offering OTC services to individuals and organizations wishing to purchase high volumes of crypto assets.
BitOasis is a service established in 2015 that has been growing steadily in recent years. It’s a platform that works both as a crypto exchange and a broker, offering its services mainly in the Middle East.
Although the platform focuses its services mainly on Middle East countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman, other countries in the world – including North Africa – can also use the platform for crypto-to-crypto operations. The current offer of cryptocurrencies is around 20, quite wide to satisfy all types of users.
BitOasis fees are somewhat higher than the average in this type of service and are based on a maker-taker scheme, so fees vary according to your position and the volume of transactions.
To give you an idea, if you are a maker, fees can range from 0.25% to 0.050% on an ascending scale – the larger the transaction, the less you pay. If you are a taker, fees vary from 0.50% to 0.30% on an ascending scale.
As far as we have been able to investigate, BitOasis doesn’t have any type of certification from any central bank, nor does it note that they are Sharia compliant, but it does adhere to legal regulations. In this sense, the platform applies KYC and AML procedures for each newly registered user.
On the other hand, the exchange complies with traditional standards in this type of service, such as 2FA, email verification, cold-storage, and it recently implemented a three-level multi-signature system in its online wallet.
The latter allows users to have greater control over their funds, something that combines very well with the possibility of using the platform from their mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Another positive aspect of their platform is that they offer a Support page that provides a knowledge base for its customers with numerous articles on how to utilize the platform as well as an additional, and pretty extensive, FAQ page.
Matrix is an exchange based in Abu Dabhi (UAE), which allows you to buy, sell and transfer crypto assets through a very easy-to-use interface.
We are speaking of one of the most notable and reliable platforms within the UAE, as it is fully regulated and has an In-Principle Approval (IPA) license from the Abu Dabhi Global Market (ADGM).
Although the platform offers its services mainly in UAE, the aforementioned license allows it to offer its services to clients in other regions such as Asia, India, the Middle East, and Europe.
The crypto assets offered are limited at the moment to Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Bitcoin Cash. In addition, it appears that USD is the currency the platform uses to buy crypto and if you deposit money from a bank that does not use USD, then their platform will convert your local currency to USD. You must check with your bank to note what the currency conversion fee is as this is not dictated or covered by Matrix.
The platform applies fees based on a maker-taker scheme, although for some operations it turns out to be somewhat more competitive than other similar platforms, withdrawal fees can be somewhat high.
Trading fees (crypto to USD):
- Maker: 0.10% – Taker: 0.20%
- Crypto and USD deposits: free
- Crypto and USD withdrawals: variable (about 40%)
But with no doubt, the aspect in which the platform stands out the most is in its security. As a regulated entity, Matrix complies with AML/KYC policies and staff constantly audits its systems to prevent fraud attempts. 95% of clients’ crypto assets are stored in offline wallets, and these funds are insured for a value up to $100m.
Matrix also has additional security features:
- Multi-Factor Authentication
- Fully online encryption of sensitive data
- Disaster recovery plans
- Encrypted wallet keys
- Constant verification of their systems by third-party IT security companies
In case of doubts or problems, it is only possible to contact support by email – at least initially. As an added benefit, the exchange offers OTC services for retail and institutional customers from around the world.
DigiDinar is an umbrella term that encompasses a series of open-source projects created by a group of developers based in Kuwait. The project was founded in 2018 and since then, it has brought several cryptocurrencies and exchanges to the world, initially covering only Kuwait, and later the rest of the world.
The two main projects are the DigiDinar cryptocurrency and the DigiDinar exchange.
DigiDinar is not only a cryptocurrency exchange but also a marketplace where Kuwaiti users can use their cryptocurrencies to purchase goods and services. However, some services are also available for other countries.
At this time, the cryptocurrency offering is almost ten, including some of the most popular like BTC and Ether.
The fees are based on a maker-taker scheme and are average for this type of service, and it isn’t necessary to pay fees in the cases of deposits, trading operations, and canceled orders. Withdrawal fees differ with a withdrawal fee of 0.25% for Bitcoin, Litecoin, and DigiDinar tokens. Withdrawl fees for Ether are at 3%, withdrawal in Kuwait dinar is at 2.5 KWD, and withdrawal of Tether is at 37 USDT.
On the security side, the platform is traditional, storing most funds in cold storage and offering other measures such as email verification and 2FA.
Customer support does stand out, since it is not only possible to contact support by email and online ticket, but also by phone, WhatsApp, social media, and even in their own offices in Kuwait.
Another aspect to note is that the team behind the exchange organizes seminars on blockchain technology every three months, this being part of the project’s mission to educate as many people as possible about the use of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
The platform does not have any type of certification indicating that it is Sharia compliant, but it does offer OTC service for international clients. It also has Android and iOS apps currently under development.
NakitCoins is a crypto-asset exchange service established in Turkey that is a pioneer in establishing the first physical cryptocurrency agency that works as cashpoint and broker in the country, with offices also in Ankara and Istanbul.
The exchange offers its customers the possibility to buy and sell crypto for cash directly in their offices while also offering and OTC service for large volume transactions in a secure and easy way.
In addition to the physical offices in Turkey, the exchange offers its services online worldwide – with only 30 countries excluded from some services – to be used for instant exchange without registering an account.
The exchange only allows the purchase and sale of Bitcoin anonymously, but it also has a SWAP SERVICE that allows anyone to exchange Bitcoin to five other different cryptocurrencies in a fairly easy and fast way.
Regarding fees, these are between 1% and 4% for most services, except in the case of BTC purchases with credit card, which are up to 8%.
In security matters, it must be said that the platform is only used to carry out exchange operations on the go, so it doesn’t store user funds at any time.
Although it is a decentralized exchange, it complies with the AML and KYC regulations that are already common in these services and I have not found any certification stating that the exchange is Sharia compliant.
Customer support can be done via live chat, social media, and email. The exchange can also be accessed from your Android and iOS apps – although not all functions are available.