In a press release, Indian based digital asset custodian and wallet, Liminal has been granted an In Principle Approval by Abu Dhabi’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate as a custody provider for Virtual Assets.

Liminal is working diligently to fulfill all the IPA conditions and meet FSRA’s stringent requirements to receive the Financial Services Permission (FSP).

As per Liminal, receiving the FSP from the FSRA will empower Liminal in extending its services as a trusted and reliable custodian for Virtual Assets within the ADGM jurisdiction and serve the broader MENA region. Liminal also recently launched its compliance solutions suite, with Notabene’s Travel Rule solution.

Earlier this year, in May, Liminal achieved another milestone by obtaining the TCSP License from the Hong Kong Companies Registry, enabling regulated digital asset custodial services in Hong Kong.

When Liminal secures the FSP from the FSRA, it will play a vital role in the Web3 ecosystem in the UAE, expanding its product and service offerings for the MENA region. Liminal will offer institutions a comprehensive suite of services designed to safeguard their virtual assets effectively.

Manan Vora, Senior VP of Strategy & Business Operations at Liminal, expressed enthusiasm about the IPA, stating, “ADGM has established itself as a thriving hub for innovation, growth, and maturation of the Web3 ecosystem. Their dedication to formulating clear and comprehensive regulations has created a trusted and secure environment for investors and Web3 enterprises. Recognizing the escalating demand for secure custody services in the MENA region, we took this strategic step to cater to the industry’s evolving needs. The IPA marks a significant leap forward in our mission to provide institutional-grade custody services for the digital asset industry. We are genuinely thrilled to contribute to the growth of this emerging market. After setting up an entity in Abu Dhabi, our next step is to obtain the FSP, and work closely with the ADGM team to provide regulated custody operations.”

Arvind Ramamurthy, Chief of Market Development at ADGM said, “We extend our congratulations to Liminal on being granted the IPA from the FSRA of ADGM, which paves the way for them to become fully operational in ADGM as a premier custody provider for virtual assets. As an international financial center of the UAE’s capital, ADGM’s vision for fostering a dynamic and trusted financial ecosystem prioritizes upholding the highest standards of security, innovation, and regulatory compliance. Liminal’s capabilities and dedication align seamlessly with ADGM’s goals and reinforce our commitment to driving the growth of the digital asset space in Abu Dhabi and beyond. We anticipate witnessing Liminal’s positive impact on the market and its contribution to the advancement of virtual asset services.”

Jehanzeb Awan, Founder & CEO, J. Awan & Partners, praised Liminal’s commitment and said, “It’s truly impressive to witness Liminal’s dedication to regulatory compliance and their unwavering service to the digital asset industry. Our joint efforts in undergoing stringent screening procedures and audits have culminated in a significant milestone with the issuance of the IPA. I am confident that Liminal will continue to set new standards in the virtual asset custody space, while fostering innovation in ADGM’s rapidly emerging market.”

In its commitment to delivering regulated and compliant custody solutions in the Middle East, Liminal is pleased to welcome Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta, Veteran Business Strategist, to Its Board in Abu Dhabi. Dr. Dasgupta is highly regarded for his contributions to ADGM, and has been instrumental in revolutionizing cryptocurrency regulation on a global scale. In the past, he has also held distinguished positions as the Chief Operating Officer of UK Export Finance and held leadership positions at esteemed financial institutions, including HSBC, ABN AMRO, Citigroup, and PwC.

UAE Abu Dhabi Global Market’s registration authority is seeking to develop regulations for DLT ( Distributed Ledger Technology) decentralized autonomous organizations and has started with the issuance of a consultation paper seeking replies before May 12th 2023.

For the proposed Distributed Ledger Technology Foundations Regulations 2023, ADGM is seeking public feedback and comments on the proposed new legislative framework for foundations that facilitate Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and token issuance (DLT Foundations).

As per the announcement, the Consultation Paper is of interest to any persons operating or planning DLT projects, persons engaging in digital asset related activities and their legal advisors, as well as DLT industry participants, associations, and stakeholders.

The RA’s key proposals for the Distributed Ledger Technology Foundations Regulations cover: the structure of the DLT Foundations; governance and control; tokens; reporting, disclosures and publication; beneficial ownership; supervision; insolvency and liquidation / voluntary strike off.

This new legislative framework showcases ADGM RA’s recognition of the overall suitability of foundation structures for DLT projects, and the RA’s alignment with ADGM’s strategy to facilitate and support crypto initiatives.

ADGM had received interest concerning the use of ADGM foundations for DLT purposes and the issuance of non-regulated utility tokens. However, whilst foundations are inherently well suited to DLT projects, there are certain features and requirements within ADGM’s current foundations regimes that impose constraints that are not desirable for DLT projects.

The ADGM registration authority, recognizing the overall suitability of foundation structures for DLT projects, seeks to facilitate and support crypto initiatives, as such decided to prepare a new legislative framework to cater for DLT projects and token issuance.

Decentralization is a core principle of many DLT projects, which prizes the transfer of authority and control away from centralized entities or groups to a distributed network of project participants. The perceived advantages of decentralization are rooted in this idea of decentralized governance, which its advocates believe promises a number of benefits, including more equitable ownership and value distribution among stakeholders, insulation from the vested interests of particular individuals or groups, reduced risk of censorship, and greater diversity.

So for these kinds of DLT projects, the concept of the “decentralized autonomous organization” (DAO) has emerged as the ideal-type governance structure.

UAE based Abu Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and Zand Bank, the UAE’s all digital bank licensed by the UAE Central Bank, have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to offer preferential banking services and efficient bank account opening  for ADGM-licensed entities, including SMEs, virtual assets companies, funds, and corporations.

Zand Bank will be the sixth bank that ADGM has partnered with in addition to other prominent banks operating in Abu Dhabi and across the UAE. As per the agreement, ADGM and Zand Bank will also support the placement of Emiratis and offer finance training programs, SME financing platforms, a FinTech sandbox, and corporate innovation programs.

Commenting on this partnership, Dhaher bin Dhaher Al Mheiri, CEO of ADGM, said, “We are pleased to partner with Zand Bank to collaborate on mutually beneficial initiatives and empower ADGM’s community with dedicated banking services. SMEs exist as one of the main pillars of economic diversification in the UAE and Abu Dhabi. They are important contributors to ADGM’s vibrant ecosystem. Enabling digital financial services through Zand bank in both the retail and corporate space for these SMEs is a testament to our continued efforts to support their growth and expansion in the global financial hub. We look forward to witnessing the long-term growth this impactful partnership presents to the ADGM community and the SMEs of the UAE.”

Michael Chan, CEO at Zand Bank, said, “We are delighted to partner with ADGM to support technology SMEs and start-ups across the UAE. As the international financial centre in Abu Dhabi, ADGM houses a number of diverse businesses, all looking to grow and expand their footprint in the region. We strive to financially empower these businesses in the ADGM community, through our innovative, customer-centric and superior digital banking offerings.”

More than 1,000 companies established operations within the center in the first six months of last year. According to Al Mheiri, there are over 5,400 companies registered and licensed at the ADGM, with the number expected to grow.

The Abu Dhabi Finance Week witnessed a lot of announcements including Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) crypto hub the second crypto hub in UAE after Dubai’s Digital Assets Business Group and the crypto center in Dubai Multi Commodities Centre DMCC in Dubai. 

As per the announcement, given the rapid emergence of new virtual assets such as cryptocurrencies and other related assets, ADGM is leading the way to introduce progressive frameworks and regulations around these technologies and developments.

The launch of “Abu Dhabi Crypto Hub” is therefore an important representation of the strategic initiatives taken by ADGM in support of economic diversification and the growing role of Abu Dhabi as a financial hub, addressing the current and future needs of the market through innovative technologies.

Crypto Abu Dhabi served as a vital platform to facilitate the assembly of the global crypto, blockchain and decentralized finance entities and elaborated on some of the most disruptive financial technology of our age, while also discussing and planning the long-term growth and development goals of an exciting, dynamic and forward-looking sector of the financial industry.

This also comes after Abu Dhabi launched its own Middle East, Africa & Asia Crypto & Blockchain Association (MEAACBA) backed as well by ADGM. As per the announcement it was seen as a pivotal step forward in the development of accessible, transparent, and compliant crypto-blockchain ecosystems.

The non-profit member-driven organization has cross-industry representation with a focus on education, coordination, and innovation for participants across the crypto and blockchain ecosystem.

  • Jehanzeb Awan (Chairman)
  • Richard Teng – Regional Head of MENA, Binance
  • Stuart Isted – GM, MEA,
  • Ola Doudin – CEO & Cofounder, BitOasis
  • Basil Al Askari – Co Founder and CEO, MidChains
  • Joseph Dallago – CEO and Co-Founder, Rain Financial
  • Dapo Ako – MD, J. Awan & Partners

Board Chairman, Jehanzeb Awan, stated “We are dedicated to educating the global community and helping all businesses succeed and thrive. This will be delivered by industry experts sharing knowledge through webinars, courses and events. The Association will also promote responsible innovation through its ‘Moon-shot’ lab to which all participants can contribute.”

Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of ADGM, commented: “The decision by MEAACBA to incorporate in ADGM is a clear acknowledgment of the progressive regulations ADGM has built, to enable the development of technological innovation in crypto. We look forward to working closely with MEAACBA to support the development of crypto and blockchain ecosystems. We strongly believe that the Association will positively contribute towards bolstering Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s digital economy and adoption.”

MEAACBA membership is open to all companies and individuals across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa involved with the blockchain and crypto ecosystem, including exchanges, custodians, consulting firms, technology developers, digital asset traders, and NFT/ Metaverse firms.

Just two months prior, Dubai’s Digital Assets Business Group (D2A2) was launched by Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy. As per the announcement at the time, the group aimed to strengthen the digital asset industry’s role in the economic development of the UAE and the wider Middle East region, enhance digital business infrastructure and support the growth of digital companies in Dubai.

His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, emphasized the formation of D2A2 as a strategic move aligned with Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy’s strategy, which aims to fast track the growth of Dubai’s digital economy.

D2A2 was touted to be an important reference providing strategic and up-to-date market research data related to the digital asset sector to industry stakeholders, the private sector, policymakers and government entities.

Gaurang Desai, Chairman of D2A2, said: “We see an opportunity to turn Dubai and the UAE into a regional hub for digital assets. That is why it is very important to work towards creating a bridge for the digital asset industry to further integrate into the world economy by cooperating with counterpart organizations across the world. We wish to welcome all experts in the industry to come and join D2A2, to help us spread the principles of accountability, integrity and transparency, and promote the highest professional and ethical standards. D2A2 will reinforce the digital asset industry’s commitment to society by educating the public and developing tools to bolster the access to and advancement of technology for all. It will also support the digital asset industry’s efforts to improve quality, the environment, and energy management and investor protection.”

So where does the Crypto Oasis ecosystem come in to all of this? It was the first ecosystem to be launched in the UAE to help promote blockchain and crypto companies and regulations. Ralf Gabischnig told LaraontheBlock, “We have just started to accept memberships into the Crypto Oasis ecosystem and I believe every association or ecosystem has its own target. I believe in cooperation and doing all we can to grow a small markets together into a very big market.” He hopes to expand their scope to include the entire UAE and MENA region.

So while the world grapples with the events of FTX exchange and its aftermath, the UAE continues to build its crypto blockchain economy and we might see more associations pop up in other parts of the UAE.

UAE based Venom Blockchain which recently received a license from ADGM ( Abu Dhabi Global Market)  in early October 2022, now has a regulated virtual asset exchange on its roster, Yoshi Markets,  renamed to Venomex.

In March 2022, Yoshi Markets previously known as Arabian Bourse Limited (ABX), received the Financial Services Permission (FSP) from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). The FSP allowed Yoshi Markets to operate as a Multilateral Trading Facility (MTF) and Custodian for virtual assets.

Now Yoshi Markets has renamed itself to Venomex, reflecting the recently approved Venom Blockchain platform, which will allow the provisioning of virtual assets and blockchain based services. Venom blockchain is building the first NFT marketplace in the UAE from ADGM as well as the issuance of first fiat backed stablecoin.

Mustafa Kheriba, the Executive Chairman of Venomex, stated, “This is an exciting time for us at Venomex. The new name and brand will further position Venomex as an entity that aims to harness the potential of Virtual Assets and Blockchain in a much more impactful manner. With the new name, we plan to unveil services that will have multi-faceted use cases and benefits for our customers and strategic partners alike.”

Arshad Khan, CEO of Venomex, added, “We are extremely happy to announce the new name. As the Virtual Assets landscape is shaping up in the UAE, owing to the clarity of regulations and emergence of multiple ventures in this space, we see the rebranding initiative as the first step towards becoming an end-to-end ecosystem player. I would like to thank the Venomex shareholders and the FSRA for their continuous support and guidance.”

Venomex Limited is a Multilateral Trading Facility (MTF) and Custodian, based in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and has received FSP from Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM. As a virtual asset MTF and Custodian, Venomex aims to be a preferred venue for virtual assets listing, trading, settlement and custody and will offer a fully integrated ecosystem to institutional, HNI and retail investors.

UAE Sarwa, hybrid automated investment platform regulated by DFSA (Dubai Financial Services Authority) has now added crypto to its trading platform. Sarwa Crypto, a product of Sarwa Digital Wealth Capital Limited regulated by ADGM FSRA,  will offer four major cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin.

The statement on LinkedIn says, “We are super proud to announce that Sarwa is launching Crypto in our trading platform for clients. This latest product release comes after months of hard work.  Sarwa Crypto will allow users to trade crypto coins such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, Litecoin, and more to come in the future. In addition there is no account minimum and no transfer fees for local AED accounts.”

Co-Founder, Nadine Mezher commented, “People might ask, in this volatile market? Yes, absolutely. Our product offering is not tied to booms and drops. It’s about understanding the needs of our community and how we can provide them with investing within a safe environment. So we are starting with 4 currencies – the ones that were amongst the first to emerge, as a point of entry.”

Prior to this Sarwa offered within it portfolio exposure of 5 percent to Bitcoin through GrayScale Bitcoin Trust. This was under the regulation of ADGM in Abu Dhabi.

This latest announcement, for Sarwa Crypto, comes just after a few months of launching Sarwa Trade. The World Economic Forum placed Sarwa as one of the Top 14 Fintech shaping the 4th industrial revolution. UAE Dubai International Financial Centre invested in Sarwa, as part of a 100 million USD fund, to help companies seeking access to Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Even Abu Dhabi Investment Office invested as well in Sarwa.

In 2021 Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority granted Sarwa FinTech ExPermit to experiment Robo-Advisory Service in the country.

The Abu Dhabi Global Market has launched a crypto vending machine in the free zone area. Users can insert cash or credit card and exchange them for Bitcoin or other crypto currencies. Located in the Galleria Mall, on Al Maryah Island next to ADGM. 

As per an article in the National, ADGM stated, ” the Kiosk withdrawal is logged via the internet and the puchsed Bitcoins are added to the customer’s virtual currency wallet for use in future transactions.” 

The crypto Kiosk or vending machine is an initiative of World Credit savings a brokerage firm regulated by the FSRA ( Financial Services Regulatory Authority) at ADGM. 

This is a big thing given that the last Crypto ATM set up in Dubai was decommissioned in 2019. It was a Bitcoin ATM in the Rixos Premium hotel. 

In 2019 there was  only one Bitcoin ATM in existence in the GCC in Bahrain.  In a Linkedin Post shared by the CEO of Bahrain Fintech bay Khalid Saad states, ” We have the only live Crypto ATM in the MENA region in Bahrain Fintech Bay. The Crypto ATM is run by Basket and backed by Kuwait entrepreneur Jamal Al Mutawa.” He adds, ” Basket is currently testing their solution under the Central Bank of Bahrain’s regulatory sandbox. this is a great addition to Bahrain’s growing crypto ecosystem.” Later on nothing came out of it.