In a blog post, BitOasis acknowledged that while it has resumed its acceptance of new clients onto the platform as a crypto broker operating under Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority (VARA), it is working “towards securing a full virtual asset service provider license under the supervision of VARA”.

In the blog post, BitOasis announced that the crypto broker would resume accepting new registrations retail and institutional customers starting 12 April 2024.  New users would be able to create accounts on the platform and enjoy a safe, secure and convenient way to buy, sell and trade over 60 tokens with multiple currencies, including AED, SAR, and USD.

The blog post adds,” The reopening of our platform to new retail and institutional customers is a testament to our continued dedication to serving our users in full compliance with the applicable regulatory requirements.”

BitOasis had been working since July 2023 to fulfill select conditions associated with its Operational MVP License with respect to serving Institutional and Qualified Retail Investors.

In August 2023, BitOais received an investment from Indian crypto exchange CoinDCX. At the time, Ola Doudin, Co-Founder and CEO of BitOasis said: “We are delighted to be working with CoinDCX, India’s leading crypto platform. The investment will allow us to sharpen our focus on perfecting our existing products and expanding across our markets. We are very excited about the opportunities the funding will unlock for us.”

With VARA granting renewed active operational status to BitOasis, as well as the license to crypto.com, the UAE crypto exchange regulatory landscape is now one of the most competitive in the world.

Kindly note that this article has been updated on April 14th 2024 based on VARA’s website page which noted that BitOasis hasnt received a VASP license but has now become actively operational once again.

Homegrown Bahrain based ARP Digital has received a Category 3 crypto asset service provider licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain. A category 3 license allows ARP Digital to offer crypto trading service as an agent and as a principle as well as offering custodial and investment management services.

ARP Digital provides accredited and institutional investors the requisite, tools, products, and services to effectively allocate capital to the digital asset space. ARP Digital combines best-in-class structuring capabilities with sophisticated quantitative research to deliver investment solutions for investors looking to build a strategic allocation to the digital asset space in a fully integrated way.

As per their website, ARP Digital customers include, accredited investors, family offices, institutions, asset managers, crypto exchanges, and crypto miners.

ARP Digital will be the sole provider in Bahrain specialized in over-the-counter services for structured digital asset products.

With the availability of structured digital asset products, a bridge is ​being built between traditional and cryptographic financial services.

At the heart of ARP Digital’s mission is the provision of comprehensive trading, custody, and portfolio management services. As per their website ARP Digital offers investors the ability to buy tokens, options, and structured products using wire transfers or on-chain transfers.

The team behind ARP Digital includes Yusuf Alireza, a former Goldman Sachs titan with a storied two-decade tenure and historical designation as the institution’s⁣ inaugural Arab partner, offers a blend of traditional and innovative investment strategies.

In addition is Abdul Aziz Kanoo, who previously held the position of regional director for Amber Group business in MENA. Prior to Amber Group, Abdulaziz worked in various Venture Capital Funds in New York and Dubai including Fin Capital, Palm Drive Capital, and BECO Capital. His Brother Yusuf Kanoo also a director, served as a fintech executive at the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (BBK) and a data analytics professional at MARF Group, where he was responsible for utilizing big data for strategy formulation and process optimization.

Yusuf Alireza’s believes that digital assets are the most consequential financial services innovation in the past two decades.

CoinMENA a licensed crypto broker in Bahrain also holds a Category 3 license. While Binance is the only crypto exchange in Bahrain to hold a category 4 license. Binance with its category 4 license can offer full crypto exchange services.

Nexo, a crypto and digital assets fintech platform has received initial approval from Dubai’s regulatory authority VARA. Nexo DTC, its UAE entity will be seeking a license for crypto brokerage, crypto lending, borrowing and investment license.

As per the announcement, “Nexo is enthusiastic about the pursuit of new market strategies aligned with the transformative guidance of Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority,” said Kalin Metodiev, co-founder and managing partner at Nexo.

As per the press release, “This IA positions Nexo as one of the first digital asset lending institutions seeking to expand into the pivotal Dubai market. Once licensed, the solution will be available to Nexo clients through the Nexo platform to offer it in compliance with local regulations, accessible via both mobile and web platforms.”

“From the UAE, the global leader for vision, governance, and innovation, Nexo aims to contribute to the regional ecosystem through pioneering lending, brokerage, management, and investment solutions. Nexo is enthusiastic about the pursuit of new market strategies aligned with the transformative guidance of Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority,” said Kalin Metodiev, CFA, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Nexo.

In March 2023, Nexo Co-Founder and MD Antoni Trenchev announced that the UK entity would be opening its offices in the UAE as it expanded into the MENA region.

He noted at the time, that the MENA region will grow to account for 30 percent of its total global operations. NEXO had noted that it would set up under Dubai’s VARA regulations as well as DIFC.

As per comments made by Trenchev 150 people will be recruited. In the article he states, “We are seeking two lines of regulation,” Trenchev said. “One is for the crypto-related activities which will be at VARA, while DIFC will be for more traditional offerings associated with wealth management.

“There appears to be a political will to create a blockchain fintech financial hub in the region but more specifically Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which is always welcoming,” he said.

The Dubai based entity of WadzPay, WPME Technology, which specializes in blockchain based technology for virtual assets has been granted a Virtual Assets Service Provider (VASP) Licence for Virtual Asset Broker-Dealer service activities, better known as crypto broker license, by Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA).

The crypto broker licence remains non-operational until the company fully satisfies all remaining conditions and select localisation requirements defined by VARA, following which it will be able to commence operations, subject to regulatory reverification and approval.

As per the press release, WadzPay is excited to deliver its innovative and industry-leading solutions to customers across Middle East while working closely with regulators in contributing to build a compliant and robust fintech ecosystem.

Mr. Anish Jain, Founder & CEO, WadzPay stated “This licence showcases WadzPay’s dedication in promoting innovation in the field of virtual assets domain and blockchain technology bringing us a step closer to delivering world class solutions to businesses in Middle East.”

WadzPay aims to revolutionise the way people in the Middle East transact and manage virtual assets. WadzPay’s commitment to compliance ensures that financial institutions and their customers can confidently embrace the benefits of blockchain technology while adhering to regulatory standards, ultimately contributing to the growth and sustainability of the fintech ecosystem in the Middle East.

Mr. Ram Chari, Board Member and Group Director, WadzPay quoted “This will further solidify WadzPay’s position as a trusted and reliable blockchain technology based financial service provider in the region. With the broker-dealer services, WadzPay will provide the technology to its clients to enhance the experience of their customers by enabling virtual assets transactions in a seamless and secure manner. “

To which Mr. Khaled Moharem, President – MENA & Europe at WadzPay, emphasised, “This cements our hard work and sets the stage for transformative blockchain solutions, promoting compliance and customer confidence in the Virtual Assets Industry.”

WadzPay received its initial approval for a license back in October 2023.

In 2022, KSA based Geidea, a leading fintech company in Saudi Arabia and Blockchain based payments solutions, WadzPay Middle East Technology forged a new strategic partnership to power the transformation of pilgrimage payments.

WadzPay had been strivign to obtain a Blockchain settlement and payment license from VARA in Dubai, yet this will need further framework and direction from the Central Bank of UAE.

Canadian based Aquanow ME FZE local UAE entity, a digital assets liquidity infrastructure provider, has received a full virtual asset service provider license from Dubai Virtual asset regulatory Authority (VARA).

The license which is currently pending, will allow Aquanow to offer crypto broker dealer services as well as investment services. Aquanow will also be able to offer crypto lending and borrowing services.

Aquanow has been operating crypto infrastructure at scale since 2018.

In January 2023, Aquanow and Gate.io, a global cryptocurrency exchange with over $6B in daily volume, entered into a partnership to build global liquidity for the next wave of blockchain projects.

In June 2023 Aquanow, announced that it had received initial approval from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA), while it undertakes the in-depth process of applying for a license in accordance with VARA requirements.

Aquanow is a global leader in digital assets infrastructure and is a facilitator for cryptocurrency trading in over 50 countries. Aquanow ranked amongst the fastest growing companies with a four-year revenue growth rate of 1,842%, according to the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 list.

“Dubai’s D33 vision of emerging as a top global financial center and major hub of innovation, testing, and commercialization of new technologies was a key factor in making the Emirate the centerpiece in our international growth efforts,” said Phil Sham, Aquanow Co-Founder and CEO. “We look forward to enabling a range of crypto use cases, and contributing to the region’s efforts that are leading the virtual assets industry in balancing consumer protections with world-changing technology.”

With this VARA has awarded OKx, CoinMENA and several other crypto exchanges and brokers in the UAE licenses to start their operations in a regulated manner.

Article updated with quote at 7:50 UAE time.

UAE CoinMENA licensed crypto exchange will be able to reduce fiat to crypto transaction costs after being awarded its license from VARA, the Dubai virtual asset regulatory authority. CoinMENA holds a broker license allowing it to cater to retail and institutional clients.

With the license CoinMENA now has, it can serve clients from Dubai and utilize local banking services. Users can now instantly deposit and withdraw funds.

As Talal Tabbaa CO Founder of CoinMENA  explained, “Dubai is at the forefront of crypto growth and innovation, launching various initiatives to push the adoption of the digital asset in the region. Working with VARA will enable us to better serve our institutional and retail users in the Emirate as well as reduce fiat to crypto transaction costs.”

Dina Sam’an Co Founder and Chief Operation Officer added, “Building strong relationships with local regulators has been a priority for us since day one. We are delighted to have received a license from VARA, which further strengthens our market position and gives confidence to our users and investors.”

CoinMENA is the fifth crypto broker to receive a license from VARA. CoinMENA and others have received licenses both broker and exchange before Binance and other international players such as Crypto.com and OKx have.

CoinMENA already holds a license in Bahrain.

This comes two weeks after M2 launched in Abu Dhabi with full crypto exchange services. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are proving to be the center of regulation casting doubt on the regulatory environment in other countries such as the USA.

CoinMENA has just become one of the first crypto broker from the MENA region to receive a full VASP (Virtual asset service provider license from VARA). As per the license CoinMENA can offer crypto broker services to institutional investors, qualified investors and retail clients.

With this CoinMENA becomes the 10th VASP to receive a license from Dubai’s regulator. CoinMENA already has a license in Bahrain and serves clients across the MENA region.

In August 2023 MENA CoinMENA came out with a new marketing campaign announcing that as a licensed exchange it is serving more than 250,000 users across 8 countries including Bahrain, UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Iraq and Egypt, stating its intentions to expand its base.

Still not to receive are Binance, Bybit, and Crypto.com, while BitOasis has been removed totally from VARA’s registered VASP list.

This comes after M2 launched its operations out of Abu Dhabi.

Laser Digital, crypto broker and investment service provider, a subsidiary of Japanese Nomura has integrated with Talos, which provides an institutional-grade technology infrastructure that supports the full lifecycle of digital assets trading and procurement including liquidity sourcing, price discovery, trade execution, settlement, lending, and borrowing.

As per the press release,this partnership broadens Laser Digital’s reach among institutional clients while adding a new source of institutional-grade liquidity to the Talos network.

“We are proud to join forces with Talos to expand institutional access to digital assets,” said Jez Mohideen, CEO of Laser Digital. “Talos and Laser Digital share a heritage in traditional financial markets and a common goal to simplify digital asset trading in a way that is familiar and trusted by institutions”

Laser Diigtal’s quant-driven liquidity provision and market-making capabilities are powered by a proprietary technology platform based on years of experience in systematic trading.

“We are thrilled to welcome Laser Digital to the Talos provider network, reinforcing our commitment to providing comprehensive trading solutions to institutional clients,” said Anton Katz, CEO and Co-Founder of Talos. “Laser Digital stands out in the digital asset landscape and will enrich the liquidity available to Talos clients looking to achieve best execution.”

Prior to this Laser Diigtal launched an Ethereum adoption fund.

The eToro platform which offers traders and investors more than 3,000 different financial assets, including stocks, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, indices, currencies and commodities has announced receiving approval for Financial Services Permission from the regulatory body FSRA at ADGM ( Abu Dhabi Global Market) in UAE.

While eToro’s main research and development office is located in Tel Aviv, Israel, it has legal entities registered in the UK, US, Australia and Cyprus. The firm is regulated by the CySEC authority in the EU; it is authorized by the FCA in the UK, and by FinCEN in the United States, and by the ASIC in Australia. eToro boasts of 35 million customers across 100 countries.

In September 2022, eToro has recieved its in principle approval.

The approval will allow eToro to operate as a broker for securities, derivatives, and cryptoassets in the United Arab Emirates.

Yoni Assia, Founder and CEO of eToro, comments, “The approval of our operating license by ADGM is a key milestone in our continued global expansion. Abu Dhabi is increasingly recognized as a growing fintech hub, and we are excited to become part of this flourishing ecosystem. With our team in Abu Dhabi led by Jason Hughes, Senior Executive Officer for eToro Middle East and George Naddaf, GCC & MENA Regional Manager, we are looking forward to deepening our relationships in this dynamic market and to helping our UAE clients grow their financial knowledge and wealth as part of a global community of investors.”

Arvind Ramamurthy, Chief of Market Development at ADGM, added, “We are delighted to welcome eToro to ADGM. We are confident that ADGM’s dynamic ecosystem and progressive regulations will enable eToro’s vision, ADGM is the largest regulated jurisdiction of virtual assets in the MENA region and eToro’s participation will add to its vibrant and trusted ecosystem of virtual asset trading venues, global exchanges and service providers, and reinforce the UAE’s strategic value to global finance.”

eToro, M2, Rain have all beat Binance to it by recieving crypto broker exchange licenses from ADGM, while Binance currently has a crypto custodial license allowing it only to deal with institutional clients.

GC Exchange part of the GCEX Group, has been granted an Operational VASP Licence for VA Broker Dealer services from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA)

GCEX, which opened its Dubai office in July 2022 and received its MVP (Minimal Viable Product) Preparatory Licence from VARA in February 2023, can now start market operations as a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) in the Emirate of Dubai, enabling brokers, hedge funds, family offices and professional traders to access its deep liquidity in digital assets and range of technology solutions.

GCEX facilitates institutional access to digital assets through its proprietary XplorDigital trading solutions, which comprises of a technology-agnostic platform covering regulation, regulated custody, the safety of funds, tier 1 liquidity and technology (both back-end and front-end). GCEX only partners with regulated institutional digital custody and staking providers and always segregates client funds.

Mehtap Önder, Managing Director, GCEX in Dubai, commented in a press release, “VARA is leading the way in the global digital asset industry, and we are extremely proud to be one of the first firms to receive a VASP Operating Licence to provide Virtual Asset Broker-Dealer services and the first firm to gain approval to operate with a client money account, highlighting our focus on client protection.Being a regulated entity in the region is important to us – it’s the ideal way to demonstrate our commitment to adhering to international standards and implementing robust processes, with transparency and investor protection at the core of our offering. This is a major milestone for our business and is critical to GCEX’s growth strategy, enabling us to have a stronger presence in the region.”

GCEX Group enables institutional clients to access deep liquidity in FX and CFDs on digital assets, as well as digital assets spot trading and conversion and a broad range of trading solutions. Headquartered in London, with multiple offices across the globe, GCEX is regulated by the UK’s FCA and registered with the Danish FSA. True Global Ventures are investors in GCEX.

To date five crypto exchanges, Fuze, BackPack, Toko, Laser Digital, and GCEX have received full licences to operate in UAE under the VARA regime, with Crypto.com still awaiting final sign offs before it receives its full VASP license. The more well global names such as Binance, ByBit, OKX have yet to receive theirs, while BitOasis remains in frozen status.