Taurus SA, a FINMA-regulated Swiss institutional-grade digital asset infrastructure provider, has expanded its operations into the Middle East to serve its growing client base in the region. Taurus will service the GCC and MENA region, including KSA, Qatar and even Turkey through its Dubai UAE office.

Founded in 2018Taurus SA, a Swiss company provides enterprise-grade digital asset infrastructure to issue, custody and trade any digital assets: cryptocurrencies, tokenized assets, NFTs and digital currencies.

Managing Director, Bashir Kazour, leads Taurus’ new UAE office based in the DIFC in Dubai. M. Kazour brings more than 20 years of retail, capital markets and technology experience gained at Royal Bank of Canada, Standard Chartered and FIS, a leading banking and payment technology provider. Over the last decade, he collaborated closely with a diverse client base ranging from sovereign wealth funds and central banks to brokers and family offices.

“I am excited to lead Taurus’ efforts and build a winning franchise in the Middle East, a region known for its rapid adoption of blockchain technology and digital assets,” said Kazour. “Taurus is well-known for its unique custody and tokenization capabilities serving banking clients and large enterprises, which aligns perfectly with the needs of the region. We’ve already started interacting closely with regulators, central banks and clients and I’m looking forward to delivering cutting-edge and compliant solutions to the market.”

Speaking to LaraontheBlock on whether Taurus requires regulation by VARA, Bashir Kazour, Managing Director at Taurus SA explained, “Taurus does not need a regularity license in the UAE as we solely focus on providing the digital asset infrastructure to our clients in the region. To make it simple, Taurus is a technology provider, equipping banks and corporates, with a platform to manage any digital asset. The financial services activity is regulated by the Swiss FINMA and is not promoted outside of Switzerland.”

Taurus opened an office in DIFC Dubai because the company has already signed up some large financial institutions according to Kazour. He adds, “We are also in late stage discussions with several other financial and non-financial institutions in the Middle East region. The region is known for its rapid adoption of blockchain technology and digital assets driven by the regulatory clarity already provided through VARA, ADGM, RAK DAO initiatives, fostering innovation.”

As such Kazour reaffirms that the opening of the office in the UAE is to support this growing demand in the region for both custodial and tokenization solutions.

The office according to Kazour will serve the full Middle East region, including Qatar, KSA but also Turkey. He adds, “ We also have plans to expand to other countries as well.”

Taurus has already consolidated its European leadership position as the preferred digital asset infrastructure provider for banks and corporates, building on its Swiss market leadership with more than 60% market share. Among others, Taurus has recently announced a partnership with Deutsche Bank as well as CACEIS, one of the largest global custodians. Taurus also closed its $65 million Series B funding round last February with strategic investors including Arab Bank Switzerland, Credit Suisse, and Pictet.

The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) in a press release announced that it has issued a new guidance on anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) for Licensed Financial Institutions (LFIs),  banks, finance companies, exchange houses, payment service providers, registered hawala providers and insurance companies, agents and brokers as well as setting clear descriptions of virtual assets and Virtual asset service providers business models. 

His Excellency Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the CBUAE, stated, “The new guidance related to the virtual assets sector contribute to strengthening the supervisory and regulatory frameworks of the Central Bank to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. We are constantly working to enhance efforts and strengthen the awareness of licensed financial institutions to prevent all kinds of financial crime activities, and reduce potential risks to protect the financial and monetary system and maintain its soundness and stability, in line with the Financial Action Task Force standards.”

The new guidance will assist LFIs’ understanding of risks and effective implementation of their statutory AML/CFT obligations, and takes Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards into account. It will come into effect within one month.

The new guidance discusses the risks arising from dealing with virtual assets (VA) and virtual asset service providers (VASP) and sets out clear descriptions of VAs, VASPs and VASP business models. The guidance describes various channels and mechanisms of interaction between LFIs and VASPs.

The guidance outlines the customer due diligence (CDD) and enhanced due diligence (EDD) for LFIs towards potential VASP customers and counterparties, with the aim of de- risking, supporting them with training programmes, a governance system and record- keeping mechanisms.

This comes after MENA FATF adopted several recommendations proposed by Abu Dhabi including those pertaining to virtual assets.