In a market notice issued November 17th 2023, the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), confirmed that the deadline for VA sector to engage in the regulatory license elapsed today and that eighteen virtual asset service providers commercially licensed on mainland under Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) have thus far, been issued fines for failing to comply with VARA’s directives and regulatory guidance.

A VARA spokesperson declined to name the eighteen entities in question.

As per the notice, in line with VARA’s commitment to protect consumers, maintain market integrity, and manage security of the Virtual Economy being enabled in and from Dubai, these enforcement actions are a pre-requisite to remedy compliance breaches and assure global markets that VARA’s regime can be trusted to have consistency and resilience in deployment.

The Dubai virtual asset regulator stated that this would be an ongoing process, with additional fines, enforcement actions, and closure of unlicensed VASPs expected. VASPs have until year end to address any regulatory gaps.

Entities seeking to continue to offer virtual asset services in Dubai are urged to contact VARA immediately to avoid further penalties. Consumers are advised to check the VARA website for advice on approved VASPs in Dubai. For further information, please contact VARA via our website or via

This comes a day after CEO Henson Orser stepped down, and 10 days after VARA issued a notice asking all VASPs to finalize their license registrations and requirements.

But there have also been positive news in the VASP licensing arena, with entities such as Fuze Finance receiving a license as well as HexTrust and BackBack in the past 10 days.

The Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism and the Virtual Assets regulatory Authority have signed an MOU to unify VASP ( virtual asset service provider) offering in the city.

The two entities will collaborate to offer a synchronised VA market assurance across the Emirate of Dubai – spanning [Public/Marketplace] Customer Care + Complaints; [Business] On-Site Inspection + Enforcement; [Business] VASP Registration + Licensing; [G2G + G2B + G2C] Education-Training-Knowledge Sharing.

As per the MOU, both parties agree to pool their complementary capabilities to lay robust foundations that will aid Dubai’s GDP contribution to the expanding global New Economy portfolio, reinforcing the city’s reputation as an attractive, innovative, and secure global hub for Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs), operators, and customers.

The MoU’s scope further strengthens VARA’s commitment to achieving full transparency and market conduct adherence across VASPs licensed to operate in Dubai, so that the reputation and credibility of the UAE as the preferred hub for the global sector are automatically established.

VASPs will benefit from seamless workflow processes between both parties with DET adding VARA activities to its system for virtual assets licence issuance. DET will undertake robust inspections and support VARA with in-situ enforcements including deploying penalties such as suspensions or revocations in cases of proven negligence or non-compliance with VARA rules, in addition to Business as Usual application renewals for VASPs that meet VARA’s requirements in full. VARA will be included on DET’s E-Permit system, which will enable one-touch point approvals on VA events and both parties will actively collaborate on awareness campaigns for VARA product and licensing updates, as well as data sharing protocols and legacy onboarding.

In keeping with Dubai Government’s commitment to improving business and market service delivery, this partnership between VARA and DET will also seek to leverage the Dubai Corporation for Consumers Protections & Fair Trade (DCCPFT) department at DET by upgrading it with specialist VA know-how from VARA, thereby optimising government resources and provide a transparent, seamless customer experience.

Both parties will also collaborate on marketing campaigns designed to raise general awareness towards consumer protection and developments in the virtual assets sector including communicating consumer protection information and advice. DET, in co-ordination with VARA, will also publish relevant notices and warnings, including penalty notices and consumer protection advisories, on its website and the DCCPFT website.