Digital Journal

A Digital Transformation Journey from Banking to Virtual Assets


In a collaboration with ZexPR, Henzelene Heally interviewed Stefan Kimmel, the CEO of M2, at the DIFC Fintech Summit in Dubai. Kimmel is a prominent figure in the fintech industry with over 25 years’ experience in finance, fintech, and digital innovation.

See Full Interview here: 

A well-known name in the FinTech industry, M2 is a regulated crypto exchange and investment platform that operates under specific licenses and regulations. “We cater to an international customer base, offering a range of products and services. We provide users with access to training and insights into various assets via a smartphone app. It is designed to be user-friendly and informative, focusing on providing essential instruments and assessments for our users,” explains Kimmel.

Integrating additional licenses can be complex, especially with varying regulations. The UAE claims to regulate everything, but there is often confusion when integrating licenses from different jurisdictions. M2 manages this complex integration process by considering both the technical and legal aspects.

“From a technical perspective, we aim to offer a seamless experience for our customers through a single app. This ensures convenience, safety, and transparency, which are crucial for new crypto users. Legally, we need to make it clear which services are provided under which jurisdiction. For example, if a service is under ADGM and another from a different jurisdiction, we ensure this is transparent to the user,” outlines Kimmel.

While many entrepreneurs are keen to set up shop in the UAE, they are often dissuaded by the regulatory complexity. M2 was established when the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) was still in its infancy, but Abu Dhabi’s ADGM was more established in having the world’s oldest crypto regulation. “We trusted ADGM’s established framework and the availability of banking rails, which are critical in crypto.”

Kimmel adds that M2’s experience with ADGM has been straightforward, dealing with one regulator and applying that framework across the emirate. “However, the multi-regulator environment can be confusing for new service providers, but we trust this will improve over time.”

In addition, M2 interacts frequently with regulators, especially the ADGM, in the form of regular discussions. “This ongoing dialogue helps ensure compliance and provides feedback on industry challenges.” Kimmel points out that the compliance team is one of the company’s biggest departments, signaling its importance.

“Constant interaction with regulators ensures we are up to date with changes. Regulations do not change overnight; there is usually a heads-up and discussions on how to comply from technical, IT, and UI perspectives. It’s an ongoing effort but essential for our operations,” says Kimmel.

M2 has grown significantly since its establishment, which Kimmel attributes to having a strong marketing and growth team. “Growth is about consistent messaging, utilizing multiple channels, and attending many industry shows, especially in the UAE, where such events are frequent. It’s about hard work, smart planning to manage costs, and being consistent.”

An exciting development has been M2’s entry into the virtual asset space. With a background in traditional finance and a focus on digital transformation, Kimmel first encountered blockchain in 2017 with a cross-country CBDC project between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This sparked his interest, and by 2021 he had fully transitioned into the crypto space, starting with Kraken and eventually leading to his role at M2.

Kimmel concurs that regulation is necessary to shape the industry, providing guidance and legitimacy. “The challenge was the absence of regulation, which created ambiguity. Clear regulations protect both investors and service providers, paving the way for mass adoption. We’re now seeing institutional interest due to these regulations, which is essential for the industry’s growth.”

M2’s incredible journey is inspiration to similar companies. “The industry is still young and growing. Beyond speculative investments, we’re seeing real-world use cases like stable coins for payments and cross-border transactions. The future lies in expanding these practical applications,” concludes Kimmel.

Interview by Henzelene Heally

Henzelene Healley is a common law qualified lawyer living in Dubai and services clients globally. Healley founded her first legal consultancy in 2019, evolving into The Counsel Services (TCS). She is qualified with an LLB with Honors in New Zealand and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 2014. Healley started her journey in Web3.0/Blockchain and digital assets in 2017 when setting up a crypto exchange in the UAE. In 2021 she was the legal counsel of a crypto mining company in the UAE and a virtual asset VC fund with USD100m in AUM. With over five years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Henzie and her team of lawyers have played a pivotal role in the growth and success of many companies in the Middle East region by providing legal guidance and support from seed, inception, to series rounds and IPO or exit.

Vikas kaushik
Tech Junkie is a small word for Vikas Kaushik. Whether the latest game on the market or a new gadget launch he is the go-to person. He drives his motivation from the fast-paced technological advancements. He ensures that the right news reaches niche audiences. An avid biker and movie buff he has deep-rooted faith in upcoming technological inventions and is a torchbearer for the tech revolution.

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