Liminal Custody, a digital asset custody and wallet infrastructure provider has opened an office in Dubai as it awaits its license from VARA after receiving its license in ADGM in Abu Dhabi. The Dubai office will be located in Sheikh Rashid Tower in Dubai within the Dubai World Trade Center Free zone.

According to the press release, this move marks a significant milestone for Liminal as it seeks to cement its role as a key player in the rapidly growing digital asset industry within the MENA region, known for its innovation and institutional adoption.

The expansion enhances Liminal’s existing presence in the region, which includes a Financial Services Permission (FSP) licence from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

“Our expansion to Dubai, along with our Initial Approval(IA) for a VASP licence from VARA, highlights Liminal’s commitment to fostering the secure growth of the regional digital asset ecosystem,” said Amir Tabch, CEO Middle East at Liminal Custody. “We are eager to collaborate with established entities like DWTC and work closely with VARA to enhance our service offerings. This strategic move enables us to provide comprehensive custody solutions tailored to the evolving needs of Dubai and the broader MENA market.”

In May Liminal Custody acquired the Financial Services Permission (FSP) from the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) allowing it to operate as a regulated crypto custodian within the Middle East.

HexTrust another crypto custodian has already received its license from VARA

For the past two months Venom Foundation, a blockchain infrastructure provider has been publishing press releases, originating from what is pointed out as UAE, which eventually prompted the Abu Dhabi Global Market, which had once housed Venom Foundation, to point out that Venom Foundation no longer operates from ADGM.

In April Venom Foundation in a press release coming out of UAE stated that it had partnered with a crypto exchange to promote strategic token projects on the Venom Network.

As per the press release, the companies will showcase the collaboration during the Venom TokenForge hackathon this week in Dubai. At the time Venom Foundation CEO Christopher Louis Tsu said; “ is a leader and a strategic partner for Venom. Venom has launched the most scalable layer zero blockchain network for Defi and payment Dapps and will facilitate the rollout of the most unique and promising projects on its network and on”

Interestingly in the same press release Venom Foundation noted that its mission was to bring transparency and innovation to the industry as a leading global blockchain company. They added, “We aim to provide infrastructure for governments and web3 projects while empowering emerging economies in the Middle East and North Africa with our unique technology.” This was despite the fact that in March 2024 Venom Foundation announced that it had exited UAE ADGM and established a new foundation in the Cayman Islands.  

The announcement came just one year after Venom Foundation registered itself in ADGM.

But this was not the only press release that came out in April alluding to the presence of Venom Foundation in UAE. In April as well Venom announced it joined forces with Banxa to offer Venom supported tokens. As mentioned then, “Integrating Venom foundation network to the Banxa Fiat rails will further boost the business value Venom presents to its Dapps and token developers’ community.

Even more so on April 9th Venom in a press release stated that it was marking a “ milestone in the technology sector of Abu Dhabi, a visionary team has launched the Venom Blockchain, a high-caliber project that has swiftly achieved a market cap surpassing $5.2 billion, with exchange volumes toppling $200 million on leading platforms. This remarkable feat underscores Abu Dhabi’s emerging role as a crucible of innovation and technological progress within the global fintech industry.

This was clearly a misleading press release given they had exited Abu Dhabi in March 2024. Even in March 2024, Venom Foundation also released that UAE Alpha MBM Investments group, the private investment office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, had made an investment in Venom Blockchain to launch digital currency initiatives across Africa, including Uganda, Somalia, and the Central African Republic.

As per the press release, the collaboration, bolstered by Alpha MBM Group’s investment in the Venom Blockchain, will leverage Alpha MBM Investment’s expertise in compliance solutions and Venom Foundation’s innovative blockchain technology. Together, they will focus on developing stablecoins and Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), establishing cryptocurrency exchanges, and implementing real-world asset tokenization projects within the agreed-upon regions.

The confusion and turmoil in Venom Foundation dates back to 2023, when Alibek Garcia Isaev, one of the main investors in Venom Foundation, was pushed into the center of a very controversial legal entanglement which brought a lot of criticism not only to Issaev but inadvertently Venom Blockchain, and its Foundation. He was then found innocent in December 2023.

But before the final ruling, Venom had also lost one of its very early investors and executives. Mustafa Kheriba, the Executive Chairman of Venomex, a UAE regulated crypto exchange and one of the initial investors and supporters of UAE based Venom Blockchain Foundation resigned from his position at Venom Foundation.

It is noteworthy that it seems the relationship between Venomex and Venom Foundation is no longer present. Venomex looks to be a standalone entity still regulated in ADGM.

So it was no surprise when Abu Dhabi Global Market, through its Registration Authority (RA) informed the public this week, that “Venom Foundation, an ADGM registered foundation with registration number 000008382 (Venom Foundation ADGM), is no longer conducting any activities in ADGM having voluntarily cancelled its commercial licence in February 2024 and appointed a liquidator in March 2024 to wind down the foundation.”

ADGM also noted, that in addition to Venom Foundation ADGM, associated ADGM companies Venom Blockchain Holding Limited with registration number 000007380 and Venom Blockchain Holding 2 Limited with registration number 000010061 also appointed a liquidator in March 2024 to wind down those companies.

The registration authority alerted members of the public that Venom Foundation ADGM and the associated ADGM companies are not associated with activities mentioned in recent social media announcements concerning the launch of Venom Blockchain. References in the recent social media to Venom Foundation are not to Venom Foundation ADGM.

So it seems that even long after the bite, the venom lingers on.

Two blockchain platforms, Klaytn backed by Kakao, and UAE based Finschia backed by Naver an affiliate UAE based LINE Tech Plus have merged to create a new unified blockchain platform Kaia, which means “and” in Greek, with a market capitalization of $1 billion.

Both entities seek to have the biggest Web3 ecosystem in Asia through this merge.

Kaia, the unified blockchain ecosystem, will be launched by the end of June, according to the press release.

In January of 2024, the two blockchain’s announced their intent to merge and sought necessary approvals which were accepted.

“Several parallel tasks for the integration are proceeding smoothly,” Seo Sang-min, chairman of Klaytn Foundation, said at the press conference. “The mainnet will be launched at the end of June, introducing the integrated token and governance system.”

“We are committed to positioning ourselves as a leading blockchain mainnet in the Asian market by collaborating with partners, including LINE Next,” Seo said.

UAE based Finschia Foundation is an independent non-profit organization, based in Abu Dhabi. As per the press release, following the integration of their blockchain ecosystems, a unified foundation will be established in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in June 2024.

Next on the agenda is to communicate with crypto exchanges, where coins from both foundations are listed, to update their listings to Kaia. Integration of both platform’s communities and social channels will also take place.

If successfully integrated, this merger will lead to the creation of a domestic virtual asset project with a market capitalization valued at 1.4 trillion won or $1 billion.

“Our goal to establish a no.1 blockchain in Asia following this merger remains unchanged,” Kim Woo-seok, director of Finschia Foundation, said. “We aim to create technological synergy rather than merely integrating two networks into one.”

“Integrations between large-scale chains are rare, so our project attracts considerable international attention. Our teams are diligently working to make this a successful example,” Seo said.

In December 2023, UAE based Finschia Foundation, NEOPIN, DeFi multichain platform partnered to provide decentralized exchange services. Under the agreement Finschia and NEOPIN would collaborate to develop the Finschia Network Swap (hereinafter referred to as FNSwap). NEOPIN is currently developing FNSwap, which will be the first Automated Market Maker (AMM) Decentralized Exchange in the Finschia ecosystem.

UAE based Klickl International, a regulated open banking and virtual asset platform has announced that it has secured a full license from the Financial Services Permission (FSP) from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of the Abu Dhabi Global Market. This achievement highlights Klickl’s dedication to tackling challenges across the Web3.0 and virtual asset landscape by developing an integrated financial platform that harmoniously blends traditional finance (TradFi) with the expanding realm of cryptocurrency.

Being founded in Abu Dhabi, Klickl strategically harnesses the emirate’s progressive regulatory environment and dynamic economic backdrop. This strategic positioning enables Klickl to streamline processes, bridging the gap between traditional financial markets and the digital economy. Such an approach not only ensures smoother transitions and improved accessibility but also lays the groundwork for integrating the next one billion users into the Web3.0 ecosystem.

Klickl’s platform is uniquely designed to be destination-agnostic, operating under a decentralized global licensing scheme that empowers users across various jurisdictions. This innovative framework not only advances inclusivity in financial services but also makes a notable impact on the global virtual assets community, facilitating seamless exchanges across diverse financial domains.

Michael Zhao, CEO of Klickl, shared his vision: “Obtaining the FSP license from FSRA marks more than a regulatory milestone; it validates our vision to merge traditional finance and cryptocurrency seamlessly. Our deep-rooted presence in Abu Dhabi, a region renowned for its pioneering strides in financial innovation, has equipped us to pioneer solutions that anticipate and fulfill the diverse needs of today’s global investors.”

Zhao added, “We are grateful for the unwavering support of the Abu Dhabi Global Market and the FSRA. Their forward-thinking regulatory policies are indispensable in our quest to redefine financial infrastructure. As we move forward, Klickl is excited to continue breaking new ground, ensuring the digital economy is accessible, secure, and efficient for everyone.”

With this new licensing, Klickl is set to expand its operations, offering robust, secure, and compliant financial services that are designed to meet the needs of today’s dynamic financial landscape and tomorrow’s digital horizons.

Kikl had receive preliminary approval back in September 2022.

Max Keisser the Bitcoin activist is at it again. Over the past months Max continues to make claims that a nation state is purchasing large amounts of Bitcoin. First, he pointed the finger at Qatar, claiming it would purchase $500 billion worth of Bitcoin.

Qatar obviously did not confirm or negate these claims; however, its central bank and government continue to prohibit the trading of cryptocurrencies noting the risky nature of these virtual assets. This has not stopped Qatar from embracing digital assets, and developing a regulatory framework as well as the digital assets Lab.

However, this has not discerned Keisser, he commented on an X (formerly twitter) post by Vivek4real that notes that an “undisclosed nation-state just bought another 100 Bitcoin. They now own 59K Bitcoin.”

Keisser comments on X that his new intelligence points to Abu Dhabi being the purchaser of Bitcoin. He states, “Just got some new intel . . .  Abu Dhabi is now the top contender.”

So now it is not Qatar but its Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

This while still seeming farfetched, could be closer to the truth than assuming that Qatar is purchasing Bitcoin. First Abu Dhabi and the UAE in particular have been positively approaching virtual assets. Both Abu Dhabi’s ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) regulatory arm the FSRA as well as Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority (VARA) have come out with crypto regulations and have licensed crypto exchanges, and custodians.

Moreover Abu Dhabi is home to a Bitcoin mining farm co-owned and managed by Marathon Digital so it could be plausible that they are accumulating Bitcoin from revenues of the crypto mining farm. It is also the base of Phoenix Group another huge bitcoin mining investor.

So while Keisser continuously tries to allude to the fact that an rich oil country, or a country in the MENA region is buying up Bitcoin, the biggest governmental owners of Bitcoin are the United States, Britain, and Germany. They own the most Bitcoin according to Arkham Intelligence. The crypto analytics firm noted that the United States owns 212,847 Bitcoins.

What one can say for sure, is that the ownership of Bitcoin is falling more into the hands of institutional investors, and governments whether with Bitcoin ETFs or confiscated crypto.

UAE private wealth optimization platform and ACX compliance, a crypto and Web3 compliance advisory firm, have published a guidebook ” Navigating ADGM’s DLT Foundations”. This initiative is designed to equip businesses with the knowledge and strategies necessary to navigate the intricacies of the Abu Dhabi Global Market’s (ADGM) Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) ecosystem.

In November 2023, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) introduced the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Foundations Regulations 2023, marking the world’s first legal framework for blockchain within its jurisdiction. They have been actively broadening its regulatory framework relating to digital assets and DLT, with the objective of establishing a comprehensive legal and regulatory structure for such businesses.

The ADGM DLT foundations regime offers a supportive ecosystem for blockchain-based businesses, prioritizing investor protection and market integrity. Specifically tailored guidelines provide clarity and certainty for businesses in the blockchain and DLT sector, emphasizing transparency, accountability, and investor confidence. Key benefits include regulated token issuance, programmable governance, and legal protection for decentralized protocols, bridging the gap between on-chain and off-chain realms.

Entities interested in registering a DLT foundation with the ADGM Registration Authority (ADGM RA) must meet stringent application criteria outlined in the Regulations. Eligible applicants include a diverse array of entities such as blockchain foundations, web3 entities, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), and traditional foundations seeking to harness the potential of DLT for enhanced operations.

According to the guidebook, DLT foundations are bound by numerous ongoing and annual compliance obligations to ensure their operations align with legal standards. These ongoing obligations necessitate DLT foundations to maintain a registered office within the ADGM, serving as a central point for all communications and notices.
Additionally, foundations are required to appoint a Company Service Provider1 responsible for several critical functions. This provider must keep all corporate records as mandated by applicable laws, ensure the foundation has a registered office within the ADGM, act as the foundation’s representative in all interactions with the ADGM RA, including the service of documents, and manage all required notifications and filings with the ADGM RA in accordance with relevant laws.

Hermione Harrison, Director, and Head of Corporate Governance M/HQ commented: “The introduction of the ADGM DLT Foundations Regulations in 2023 signifies a significant breakthrough for the UAE’s cryptocurrency industry, positioning DLT foundations as leaders in innovation and progress within both the ADGM and beyond. These Regulations establish an unprecedented level of regulatory clarity, opening doors to a future marked by heightened transparency and efficiency across the blockchain and Web3 sectors.”

So far two DLT Foundations have been registered in ADGM, IoTa and Finischia.

UAE financial freezone center, based out of Abu Dhabi, ADGM ( Abu Dhabi Global Market) has registered its second DLT Foundation.The Finschia DLT Foundation, chaired by Youngsu Ko, has been registered as a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Foundation with the ADGM.

IOTA DLT Foundation announced its registration as the first foundation under the DLT Foundations Regulations at ADGM in November 2023.

First established in March 2023 by LINE Tech Plus, a blockchain subsidiary of LINE, the Finschia DLT Foundation is a foundation dedicated to developing sustainable token models in collaboration with global Web3 users. The Finschia Foundation aims to accelerate expansion into global Web3 business initiatives.

The Finschia Foundation has registered as the first Asian blockchain project under the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Foundations Regulations of ADGM. Additionally, the Finschia Foundation is set to develop accessible Web3 services for global users in collaboration with various enterprises in Abu Dhabi, based on its public blockchain ‘Finschia’.

Youngsu Ko, Chairman of the Finschia Foundation Council, stated, “ADGM is advancing as one of the most blockchain-friendly and leading digital asset regulatory environments globally. We anticipate significant progress through our collaboration with ADGM.”

The Finschia Foundation is also focused on creating an open blockchain platform, designed for easy accessibility by partners and users from various sectors. In addition, they are actively working to expand the availability of their digital asset, ‘FINSCHIA (FNSA),’ across more exchanges, aiming to continually enhance its liquidity and usability.

Inheriting the philosophy of LINE Blockchain, “Blockchain for All”, the Finschia Foundation operates its third-generation public blockchain mainnet “Finschia” and crypto asset FINSCHIA (FNSA), and aims to achieve a sustainable token model with Web3 users around the world.

In January 2024 Finschia announced the merger with Klaytn Foundation, to form a new blockchain mainnet. The two foundations have submitted their proposals to their respective governance members for open discussion, with voting scheduled from 26 January till 2 February. The governance proposal submitted by Klaytn Foundation can be viewed on the Klaytn Governance Forum.

UAE based ADNEC Group, an events management company, will be holding the first Bitcoin MENA Conference in partnership with Bitcoin Magazine and Capital events. The Bitcoin MENA Conference 2024 is set to take place December 9-10th in the heart of Abu Dhabi at the ADNEC Centre Abu Dhabi.

The event will be co-organized by Capital Events, the event management arm of ADNEC Group, and BTC Inc., the parent company of Bitcoin Magazine and the Bitcoin 2024 conference. The seminal partnership was cemented by a high-profile signing ceremony between Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, MD and Group CEO of ADNEC Group and David Bailey, CEO of BTC Inc. The launch of this event marks a significant milestone in the world’s largest Bitcoin conference’s expansion into the investment-friendly, dynamic, and rapidly growing MENA region.

Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri Managing Director and Group CEO of ADNEC Group said: “Organizing this conference in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi reinforces its status as a regional and global epicenter for cryptocurrencies. It provides the region with a crucial platform for dialogue, discourse, and the sharing of knowledge and insights in this domain, contributing to shaping the sector’s regional trajectory for the future. The strategic collaboration with BTC Inc. to host the inaugural Bitcoin MENA Conference underscores the increasing global interest in investing in decentralized digital currencies in recent years. This partnership reflects our anticipation of future growth trends within this leading investment field.”

The Bitcoin Conference, produced by BTC Inc., is the world’s largest and most globally recognized conference brand dedicated to advancing the understanding and adoption of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. With a mission to foster collaboration and innovation, the conference brand brings together key stakeholders from across the global Bitcoin ecosystem to shape the future of Bitcoin and exhibit the latest developments, technology, and services.

Throughout this two-day event, participants will delve into the potential, challenges, and innovations within the developing Bitcoin ecosystem. Showcasing an impressive roster of expert speakers and influencers in the Bitcoin space, Bitcoin MENA is set to present a dynamic agenda complete with engaging keynote sessions, interactive discussions, and insightful workshops on key industry topics. These include the emergence of a new wave of banking and finance within the Bitcoin space, the dynamics of Mining, and the competition for energy dominance, along with insights into open-source initiatives tailored for the technical minds in the Bitcoin community.

Additionally, Bitcoin MENA 2024 will offer a variety of networking opportunities, fostering meaningful international and regional connections among participants whilst also providing a platform to showcase cutting-edge innovations and the latest developments in Bitcoin technology and services.

David Bailey, CEO of BTC Inc. noted, “Across our ecosystem, we have seen a significant upsurge in interest to enter the MENA region. When visiting Abu Dhabi, it became clear that it had all the right ingredients – infrastructure, investment, bold vision, and global access – to provide a perfect home for the international Bitcoin community to tap into the boundless opportunities this vibrant region has to offer. Capital Events and ADNEC Group are the ideal partners to collaborate with us on this journey as they bring world-class infrastructure and deep connections within the region to help supercharge growth and quickly establish Bitcoin MENA as the region’s go-to event.”

Darren Johnson, CEO of Capital Events added, “We are extremely excited to be partnering with BTC Inc. on this vital launch of Bitcoin MENA. Abu Dhabi’s increasing adoption of blockchain technology and friendly progressive regulatory environment have resulted in several high-profile industry licenses being awarded, thereby firmly positioning Abu Dhabi as the optimal hub for the flourishing adoption of Bitcoin in the region. It was clear early on in our discussions with BTC Inc. that we shared the same vision of creating an exceptional world-class event that would serve as a cornerstone in the region’s thriving Bitcoin landscape. We are confident that their deep specialist experience and global industry connections, coupled with our multi-sectoral experience and regional footprint, will make for a memorable launch and long-term growth.”

The UAE Abu Dhabi Judicial department held the Fifth Abu Dhabi Justice Partners Forum and discussed virtual currency laws in regards to money laundering and terrorist financing. The forum discussed how legal professionals can fight these crimes in accordance to UAE legislation and international best practices.

Topics on the table included the definition and risks associated with virtual currencies, the relationship between blockchain technology and these currencies, and the potential impact of virtual currencies on the global economy.

Also discussed was deceptive techniques used in money laundering and terrorist funding, the involvement of regulatory organizations in combating these offenses, and the UAE’s efforts to address money laundering through legislation and international agreements.

The forum specifically focused on money laundering offenses, their elements and background, the obligations placed on financial institutions, business sectors, and non-financial professions in terms of combating money laundering based on national laws, and the connection between virtual currencies and financial crimes.

 Attendees were provided with information about the characteristics of cryptocurrencies and their connection to money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as tactics for identifying suspicious transactions involving virtual currencies.

The forum highlighted the responsibilities and roles of lawyers and legal experts in combating financial crimes. It specifically emphasized the importance of finding a middle ground between client privacy and ethical principles while reporting suspicious criminal activities.

Furthermore, the forum emphasized the significance of conducting due diligence on customers when dealing with virtual currencies and staying informed about the challenges posed by new and advanced technologies.

This Forum and discussions held come after the UAE was taken off FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and is indicative of the UAE’s commitment to combating financial crime.

Morgan Stanley, which is said to be eyeing a Bitcoin ETF, has announced the opening of its office in Abu Dhabi at ADGM. The firm has expanded its footprint in the Middle East. The firm already has offices in Riyadh, Dubai, and Qatar.

Commenting on the new office, Clare Woodman, Head of Morgan Stanley EMEA and CEO of Morgan Stanley & Co International plc, said “We are delighted to be expanding our regional presence and commitment by opening an office in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). There are exciting times ahead for the MENA region and as capital markets activity continues to grow and diversify it brings new and rewarding opportunities for both regional and global investors.”

Arvind Ramamurthy, Chief of Market Development at ADGM, continued “We welcome Morgan Stanley, a pioneer in the global financial services industry to Abu Dhabi and its thriving International Financial Centre. This expansion underscores the attractiveness of Abu Dhabi and its value proposition as a preferred destination for global players seeking strategic growth opportunities for their business, showcasing our commitment to fostering a conducive ecosystem that drives sustainable economic development in the UAE and beyond.”

Patrick Delivanis, Regional Co-Head of MENA at Morgan Stanley commented, “We have a highly sophisticated investor base in the MENA region, and opening an office in Abu Dhabi allows us to broaden our footprint and further deliver local and regional clients access to Morgan Stanley’s leading institutional securities business as well as our renowned asset management franchise, and increasingly, global clients access to the regional market.”

The opening of an office in ADGM, well known for its virtual assets regulatory regime is interesting as Morgan Stanely is said to be deciding on whether or not it will offer Bitcoin ETFs to customers.

As per a CoinDesk article, Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley is in the midst of performing due diligence to add spot bitcoin ETF products to its brokerage platform, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

One of the people said Morgan Stanley, which is among the largest U.S. broker-dealer platforms, has been evaluating offering spot bitcoin ETFs to clients since the Securities and Exchange Commission approved their introduction in the U.S. in January.

There are 10 spot bitcoin ETFs now trading in the U.S. The ones with the most assets are Grayscale’s GBTC, BlackRock’s IBIT and Fidelity’s FBTC. It’s not clear which ones Morgan Stanley is looking to offer to its clients.

Morgan Stanley, a leader in the alternative investments and private market space with over $150 billion in assets under management, was the first major U.S. bank to offer its wealthy clients access to bitcoin funds in 2021. The bank confirmed during its first-quarter earnings call in April 2021 that it was offering its wealth management clients exposure to bitcoin via a pair of external crypto funds.

The wealth management firm’s former CFO, Jonathan Pruzan, said at the time that the bank was allowing qualified investors to gain access to two passive funds. It is understood that these funds were offered by Galaxy Digital and NYDIG.