Japanese Nomura Bank’s, Komainu, a regulated digital asset custody provider, has received an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) operational license from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA). This is one step from receiving the full operational license. This also follows HexTrust another digital asset custodian who received the license prior. Under the license Komainu will be able to offer both custodial and staking services.

Komainu had received provisional regulatory approval from VARA in July 2022 allowing it to commence operational readiness even as the application goes through the warranted due diligence.

Komainu acts as key gatekeeper to institutions gaining exposure to the digital asset industry with the provision of secure and regulated digital asset custody services for blockchain and beyond. Over the years, Komainu has established itself as one of the leading digital asset custody providers for institutional clients, providing the same safeguards and protections investors are accustomed to in traditional finance. 

Komainu is the first hybrid custodian for institutional digital asset investors created by the Japanese investment bank Nomura, digital asset manager CoinShares and digital asset security company Ledger.

The Bahrain Economic Development Board announced that it has welcomed Singapore Based digital asset bank Whampoa Group to Bahrain. Whampoa will be setting up its new digital bank headquarters in Bahrain.

The digital bank, which offers integrated financial solutions to serve institutions, innovators, and sophisticated investors globally, including digital banking services and the trading, custody, and asset management of digital assets, will open its operations in Bahrain by the end of year.

In 2022, Whampoa Group had announced plans to raise $50 million for a crypto hedge fund and had announced plans to set up a venture capital fund to invest in digital assets.

“We are delighted that Whampoa Group intends to set up the headquarters of their new digital bank in Bahrain as they would benefit from Bahrain’s pro-innovation environment and forward-looking regulatory framework. The establishment of these types of institutions is vital to further strengthen the existing digital assets industry and this milestone opportunity directly aligns with Bahrain’s Economic Recovery Plan, which prioritizes digitization across the financial services sector,” Khalid Humaidan, EDB CEO, said.

“We were impressed by Bahrain’s solid reputation in the financial services sector, transparent regulatory framework, and ongoing pledge to collaborate and innovate. We are committed to providing secure and innovative digital financial solutions in line with global best practices and are confident that our digital bank will set a new benchmark for the industry. Whampoa is grateful for the support from the Bahrain EDB and the broader Team Bahrain ecosystem throughout the entire process.” Shawn Chan, Group Chief Executive Officer of Whampoa Group commented.

UAE Emirates NBD Bank announced on LinkedIn that it has partnered with PWC and digital asset custodian and settlement provider FireBlocks to launch its Digital Asset Lab. PWC Middle East and Fireblocks will be founding council members.

According to Emirates NBD, “This marks a new milestone in our innovation journey, and together, we look forward to shaping the Digital Asset space in the region.”

Fireblocks is an enterprise-grade platform delivering secure infrastructure for moving, storing, and issuing digital assets. The company enables businesses to easily and securely support digital assets and cryptocurrencies.

In February of 2023, Fireblocks acquired First Digital, a stablecoin and digital asset payments technology platform for $100 million.

UAE based Emirates NBD has been a strong proponent for Blockchain and digitization. Emirates NBD was one of the first banks to join the UAE blockchain enabled KYC platform.

In 2022 UAE Emirates NBD Group Chief Operating Officer Abdulla Qassem, stated, “It is only a matter of time before Blockchain technology rises to the forefront in the UAE and we begin to acknowledge crypto and digital assets as valid currencies. He made this statement during a panel session at the Global Business Forum Latin America (GBF LATAM 2022).

Could this be the beginning of crypto transactions and wallets at Emirates NBD, we will just have to wait and see.

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 ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) has granted Klickl, a virtual asset service provider with offices in Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi, an in principle Approval license to operate as a digital asset broker and custodian.

Michael Zhao, Co-Founder and CEO at Klickl said “The regulated route is the only route for any crypto company’s growth if it wants to be a serious player for the long run.  Long gone are the days where digital asset players enjoy early-mover advantage benefiting from fast growing bull market. Recent crypto market turbulence and big selloff caused by greed-led FOMO driven sentiment is just another example to show why the market needs proper risk control and compliance.”

Formerly known as IDCM, the digital asset exchange group recently rebranded to Klickl representing the sound coins make when clicking in harmony and prosperity.

Klickl aims to deliver that All-in One crypto super app which serves all crypto needs in the ever-evolving digital era.

ADGM has approved license for more than seven virtual asset exchanges to operate in the UAE. The names include Binance, Kraken, as international players, and BitOasis, Midchains, Matrix and others as local ones.

The UAE has become a blockchain and crypto hub and one of the leading regulated environments across the globe. This has attracted crypto entities that were previously headquartered in Hong Kong and Singapore among others.