Once again Saudi Arabia has not been allowed to invest in an AI entity out of the United States. This time the company is Anthropic partly owned by the fallen FTX crypto exchange. As per CNBC, while sovereign wealth funds are among the investors eyeing to buy into Anthropic, including UAE Mubadala, Saudi Arabia is not one of them.

Anthropic according to sources speaking to CNBC, has ruled out taking money from investors or sovereign wealth fund in KSA. Anthropic executives cited national security, one of the sources told CNBC.

The stake in Anthropic is for sale because it belongs to FTX, the failed cryptocurrency exchange started by Sam Bankman-Fried, and is being unloaded as part of the company’s bankruptcy proceedings. FTX bought the shares three years ago for $500 million. The 8% stake is now worth more than $1 billion due to the recent boom in AI.

As per the article proceeds from the sale will be used to repay FTX customers. The transaction is ongoing and is on track to wrap up in the next couple weeks, said people with knowledge of the talks who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private.

The class B shares, which don’t come with voting rights, are being sold at Anthropic’s last valuation of $18.4 billion, sources said. Anthropic has raised roughly $7 billion in the last few years from tech giants like Amazon, Alphabet and Salesforce

While Anthropic’s founders told bankers they wouldn’t accept Saudi money, they don’t plan to challenge funding from other sovereign wealth funds, including United Arab Emirates fund Mubadala. The UAE-based firm is actively looking at investing, according to one of the sources.

In November 2023, The Biden administration forced a Saudi Aramco-backed venture capital firm to sell its shares in a Silicon Valley AI chip startup backed by OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman, as per Bloomberg

Altman-backed Rain Neuromorphics, a startup designing chips that mimic the way the brain works and aims to serve companies using artificial intelligence algorithms, raised $25 million in 2022.

Aramco’s Prosperity7, a lead investor in the $25 million round for Rain AI, sold its shares in the startup after a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, people familiar with the matter said, according to the Bloomberg report.

The agency, a U.S. watchdog for deals with national security implications, told the Saudi fund to unwind that deal sometime over the past year, the report said.

This comes as Saudi Arabia plans to create a fund of about $40 billion to invest in artificial intelligence. In recent weeks, representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund have discussed a potential partnership with Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms.

FTX in the USA, sent a motion dismissing Chapter 11 case for its Dubai’s operation regulated under Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority (VARA) in UAE. 

FTX VARA holds $4 million as security for the license of the total of $.45 million held by FTX Dubai in several accounts. As per Cointelegraph article, on July 25, VARA confirmed to FTX Dubai management that such restricted cash would be released in the context of the liquidation of FTX Dubai, according to United Arab Emirates law:

As stated in the motion, FTX Dubai established on February 11, 2022 under the laws of the United Arab Emirates to operate a crypto exchange. FTX Dubai is a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Debtor FTX Europe AG. Then on July 12, 2022, FTX Dubai was granted a virtual asset service provider license (the “License”) from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (“VARA”). Notwithstanding the grant of the License, FTX Dubai did not offer any crypto-related services to investors in the United Arab Emirates or operate a crypto exchange prior to the Petition Date. On November 10, 2022, VARA suspended the License and, on July 12, 2023, the License expired.”

FTX claims that given the absence of any historical business or resources to commence any business in the future, FTX Dubai has no reasonable likelihood of rehabilitating its operations. Additionally, FTX Dubai is balance sheet solvent. Therefore, the Debtors believe that a solvent voluntary liquidation procedure in accordance with the laws of the United Arab Emirates would allow a timely distribution of the positive cash balance after payment of all outstanding liabilities and liquidation of all assets. To the extent that any creditors filed claims against FTX Dubai in the Chapter 11 Cases, the dismissal of the Chapter 11 Case of FTX Dubai will not impact such claims and will not prejudice any creditor’s ability to pursue such claims directly against FTX Dubai in its local liquidation proceeding.

FTX adds, “  Accordingly, the Debtors believe it is in the best interests of the Debtors and their stakeholders to dismiss the Chapter 11 Case of FTX Dubai at this time.

Al Nawwar Investments RSC a Private Limited Company established in 2018 in Abu Dhabi, UAE, will be purchasing the remaining interest of Alameda research in Sequoia Capital venture capital firm, totaling $45 million.

Al Nawwar is an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund according to a court document has entered into an agreement to execute a sale transaction within a short period of time. Al Nawwar according to the court document is already invested as well in Sequoia.

The deal, worth $45 million, has the potential to be closed by March 31. However, it is subject to approval by the Delaware bankruptcy judge John Dorsey. The attempt to sell off its remaining interest in Sequoia Capital is a part of FTX’s attempts to liquidate its investments to pay off its debt to creditors.

This is not the first time a sovereign Fund in Abu Dhabi purchases crypto related entities. Prior to this ADQ entered into an agreement to build a crypto mining entities in UAE. In an SEC Filing dated January 27th 2022, USA based Marathon digital Holdings, a digital asset mining entity, announced that it had entered into a shareholder’s agreement with FSI ( FS Innovation), the BTC mining subsidiary of UAE ADQ a sovereign fund,  to form an Abu Dhabi, ( ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Markets) based company.

As HE Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications participated in the WEF session ‘Finding the right balance for crypto’  announcing that the UAE has not licensed a single crypto exchange, concurrently the Dubai based Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA)  affirmed this on its website in its latest announcement.

Al Olama told audiences at WEF, that the regulations in UAE are not light. There are extensive regulations at VARA. He affirmed, “ UAE has not issued a single licensed crypto exchange in UAE neither Binance nor FTX.” He explained that there is a four step process  and to date, “no one was able to onboard any customers even last week.”

Concurrently VARA stated on its website, “VARA has not granted any operating permits to date this is a four stage licensing process” VARA’s website explained, that the VARA regime is founded on the principles on enforcing responsible market participation backed by a future-proofed and responsive regulatory framework that remains technology agnostic; that collectively deliver socio-economic stability; robust consumer protection; and jurisdictional resilience.”

As such there are four stages to regulation at VARA, the first is Provisional permit; graduating to a 2-step [(2) Preparatory + (3) Operating] Minimum Viable Product (MVP) license; and culminating at the (4) Full Market Product (FMP) license.

The fourth stage takes into effect after regulations have been tested within the regime. As such according to VARA every Virtual Asset Service Provider [VASP] must go through all 4 stages in this current environment, wherein VARA expects to evaluate, observe, and only then authorize suitably qualified entities to undertake any market servicing activities under its licensing regime.

VARA then clarifies that at this stage the only licenses that have been issued are Stage Gate (1) Provisional or (2) MVP-Preparatory to enable VASPs to fulfill all pre-conditions, and undertake readiness steps establish offices, onboard employees with work visas, secure domestic bank account etc. prior to being in a position to undertake any market operations.

So VARA affirmed that no VARA licensee has, to date, been awarded an MVP-Operating permit.

Each VASP that is awarded an MVP license must comply with the [MVP License Conditions Document] issued by VARA, and strictly adhere to the licensing conditions outlined in the appended letter. One of the MVP conditions is that VA activities during this phase may only be provided to qualified and/or institutional investor segments.

Mass retail consumers are strictly prohibited until the Stage Gate (4) FMP license approval has been secured. [Virtual Assets and Related Activities Regulations 2023] will stipulate relevant licensing conditions and requirements.

VARA adds that when it publishes its full market regulation, it will enable borderless economic opportunity across the global VA industry, protecting investors and market participants, backed by active enforcement of all regulatory requirements beyond security and cross-border compliance including those pertaining to custody and segregation of client money; prudential requirements (viz. insurance and liquidity cover); FATF compliance, market manipulation and/or abuse prevention.

In terms of Virtual Assets Exchanges, VARA has awarded Binance (MVP Preparatory License Issued) while Bybit, Crypto.com, Equiti, GCEX, Huobi, and OKX have provisionary approval and started the process.

In terms of Virtual Assets Payment Services, Zamp has applied and have provisional approval. 

In terms of Virtual Assets Broker – Dealer services those who have applied and been granted provisional approval include BitOasis, CoinMENA, MidChains and Scallop

Virtual Assets Issuance Services include Calvin Cheng Web3.0 Holdings, Hike, Monstera, Prypto, Woonkly Labs, and Xfinite

While under Virtual Asset Custodians only Hex Trust (MVP Preparatory License Issued) and Komainu (MVP Preparatory License Issued)

Virtual Assets Management/ Investment Services: Amber Group, BRE Holdings, Brevan Howard, Fintonia Group, NineBlocks, NOIA Capital, TPS Capital and Q9 Capital have all been granted provisional approvals, first stage. 

Al Olama also noted at the WEF session that the job of a regulator is to try and be proactive and to protect people as much as possible whenever people adopt a technology. He states, “In UAE we have a young population so we need to ensure that we regulate fast because youth are early adopters. He added, “The UAE wants to protect talent since we aim to be the country with the highest per capital talent on earth.”

According to him there are other sides of crypto such as Web3 and UAE wants to attract Web3 and Blockchain talent. Blockchain is a technology of the future given that traceability cannot be removed. This according to H.E. Al Olama is a positive thing for the world as it is easier to trace someone who transacts through Bitcoin than through hard cash.”

He ascertained that regulators across the board need to work together. First bad actors should not be able to move from one place to another, and the same incidents should not be repeated tomorrow.

In terms of DeFi Al Olama believes it is is evolving and is least regulated. He states, “ We want to jump into each vertical on its own, the only issue we have is that while the UAE government can move fast  if we work with other governments as teams and we all scrutinize  every single vertical it is better as we cannot wait for next catastrophe.”

Bloomberg  just published a piece today November 27th 2022 that is rocking the UAE crypto ecosystem and is one of the most read pieces on Bloomberg as of now. As per the article roughly 4 percent of FTX’s global client base is in the UAE. This comes as no shock. LaraontheBlock had noted in an article on November 11th 2022 that VARA had suspended FTX’s crypto exchange license. The article at that time also noted that FTX MENA users brought in high revenues for FTX and was considered as the third biggest revenue region for FTX. 

Ben Bartenstein the author writes in the Bloomberg article, “Several crypto hedge funds recently launched in the UAE had dumped all of their client money on FTX, forcing an insane struggle to exit the platform before halting withdrawals to avert their own collapse, according to those familiar with the matter.”

The article also notes that roughly 4% of FTX’s global clients are based in the UAE, according to court filings in the company’s bankruptcy case, making it one of the ten most impacted jurisdictions.

The article adds that UAE officials have privately raised concerns about the pace of regulatory approvals that they may have moved too quickly and failed to identify the Three Arrows Capital and FTX blasts, people familiar with the matter said.

It goes on to state that Dubai’s VARA plans to announce its CEO in the coming weeks and intends to hold further consultations with key stakeholders before the end of the year. This information was provided by people familiar with the matter.

What the article fails to mention but was published in a separate piece recently on LaraontheBlock was that VARA is carrying out an investigation into the FTX impact on local UAE Market not limited to FTX MENA alone.

As VARA stated on its platform, ” VARA is following a developing matter involving the potential insolvency and alleged fraudulent behavior of an affiliate of a VASP licensed for participation in the MVP Phase. 

It is all over the news that UAE HayVN, regulated virtual asset trading platform is considering to bid for FTX Pay, FTX crypto exchange’s payment business. The reason the CEO of HayVN gives is that FTX Pay is valuable because of its relationships with establish companies such as MasterCard. Well is that a valid reason, given that most of these established companies have severed their relationships with FTX Pay, while it is actually Visa that was a partner and not MasterCard.

UAE National newspaper came out with a story that UAE HayVN regulated by ADGM is interested in purchasing FTX Pay  to integrate it with HayVN Pay infrastructure according to statements made by Christopher Flinos, co-founder and chief executive of Hayvn.

As he told the UAE National, “We are pleased to learn that some of the FTX businesses have solvent balance sheets, responsible management and valuable franchises. We are open to a discussion with their bankers, Perella Weinberg, as soon as they have the court’s approval to proceed.”

FTX Pay is an application that allows merchants to accept both cryptocurrency and fiat payments for a flat 1 per cent transaction fee with no minimum or upfront costs, according to its website.

In the interview Flinos did not disclose the amount Hayvn was willing to pay for FTX’s payments business, but said its plan to bid for the company had been approved by the Hayvn board and “back-channel discussions” had begun to indicate their interest. “It will be a public process but we want to be more ahead of the others for when that drops.”

Flinos believes FTX Pay is valuable because of its relationships with established companies such as Mastercard. He states, “From the advisers’ perspective, they want to know that the bidders have got money; tick, we have got money. They want to know that the bidders have got a good business; tick, we have got a good business, we are regulated, we have a game plan, we can value it [and] we know what it is worth to us. Because Sam Bankman-Fried had such a strong presence as an individual and was the darling of the industry, then companies like MasterCard had arrangements with FTX Pay.”

He adds “I am basically not buying it for its tech, as we have got better tech. I am buying it for the relationships that it has and the presence that it has with these people, so it is less risky.”

Hayvn Pay is a regulated financial network for blockchain-based currencies and works with UAE companies such as DAMAC Properties, developer Nakheel and the Dubai government, allowing people to buy property using cryptocurrency.  Earlier Hayvn had partnered with WooCommerce, an open source, e-commerce platform.

The CEO notes, “Acquiring FTX Pay will help solidify our position as the global leader in cryptocurrency payment solutions.”

But does HayVN know that VISA severed this relationship in the aftermath of FTX debacle and fall?

Yes, VISA had teamed up global crypto exchange FTX to offer debit cards in 40 countries with a focus on Latin America, Asia and Europe. But Visa terminated this partnership and their global agreements with FTX as well as their U.S. debit card program which is being wound down by their issuer.

Other companies have sought to distance themselves from FTX, such as BitPay.  Even Stripe removed the press release on its website that talks about its partnership with FTX for seamless payment, as has Nuvei a company that provides on and off ramp payment services to FTX users.

As for Reddit it also had a partnership with FTX to integrate Reddit’s Community Points in the US, EU, Australia, and other global markets. The partnership featured the integration of FTX Pay as a white-label payment and exchange solution to support users onboarding Community Points, but is surely now also a thing of the past.

So where are the partnerships that were forged with FTX Pay and if you purchase FTX Pay does that mean that the former partnerships come to life again? If the purchase is not for the technology, but for the relationships, severed ones, will it be so easy to revive them?

I really don’t know why HayVN whose technology is as they say better than FTX’s, and which is regulated by UAE ADGM would want to get into the position of purchasing an unregulated, bankrupt and partner less  sub entity of FTX. Beats me

It all started with the FTX downfall and then Binance’s Co-Founder and CEO call for crypto exchanges to carry out proof of reserves. Since then crypto exchanges such as Binance and crypto.com have provided wallets addresses tied to company wallets while Nansen blockchain analytics firm is creating a display of crypto exchange proof of reserves dashboard that currently includes Binance, crypto.com, OkX, Kucoin, Deribit, Bitfinex, Github, and others.

But what are locally homegrown crypto exchanges in MENA doing. Will they carry out proof of reserves, do they see it as the solution to bring trust back to crypto exchanges, and who has exposure to FTX?  

MENA Crypto Exchanges and Proof of Reserves

Bahrain based CoinMENA Talal Tabbaa and Dina Sama’an when asked by LaraontheBlock about if they will be doing proof of reserves stated, “This FTX news is a major setback for our industry and highlights the importance of regulation. This is why CoinMENA was established under the Central Bank of Bahrain, with a robust regulatory framework and compliance requirements. We go through regular audits and have to submit periodic reports to the regulators. More importantly, we keep our user funds in segregated accounts and we don’t offer leverage or margin which severely increases the risk profile of an exchange. We see crypto as a long-term investment and will continue to manage our risk prudently to build a sustainable and profitable business.”

Tabbaa adds, “CoinMENA is also reaching out to Nansen who is heading this effort globally to see the best way for it to be done.”

UAE regulated BitOasis CEO Ola Doudin states, “We believe that locally regulated platforms that follow industry best practices with proper oversight and supervision by their local regulators is the best way to ensure consumer protection and proper risk management practices.”

Vasja Zupan, President of UAE based Matrix Exchange in a reply to the question of whether they will do proof of reserves states, “We simply hold 1:1 client assets in our custody that is literally reconciled daily and regularly reported and checked by regulator and external auditors.”

Basil Askari Co-Founder of UAE MidChains has a similar reply, “In terms of proof of reserves we are already doing this on a daily basis with our regulator by providing daily client account reconciliations.”

Ola Doudin in her reply to this question stated, “BitOasis holds client assets in segregated client money accounts and custody environments. We’re an audited company that maintains the highest level of security and industry practices in storing and maintaining client assets one to one backed. We do not engage in any fractional reserve practices, proprietary trading, lending, and borrowing and we do not have an exchange token.”

Christopher Flinos, Chief Executive Officer of Hayvn crypto exchange in UAE “We already do proof of reserves. Our client’s crypto stays in segregated client wallets and our clients have always had access to their reserves. The firm in addition keeps shareholder funds in USD We hold no treasury in any coins not even stablecoins.”

Will Proof of reserves bring trust back to crypto exchanges?

Zupan believes that proof of reserves is totally useless without “proof of liabilities”. As he explains, “Proof of reserves alone should not bring trust back without 3rd party reviews and regulatory oversight over centralized services. I believe that CeFi needs a strong regulatory overview in combination with strong transparency and DeFi needs total transparency with independent reviews (not everyone can evaluate complex software and framework).”

Basil Askari co-founder of MidChains believes it is not enough to publish numbers. He explains, “Regulation and strict supervision by regulators on how client funds are used, is and has always been critical, as in TradeFi.”

Talal Tabbaa believes that the way crypto exchanges are carrying out proof of reserves at the moment is missing an important element. He explains, “In accounting when you provide information on your assets, you also provide information on your liabilities. Crypto exchanges need to do both proof of reserves and proof of liabilities preferably on a blockchain in real-time.”

Flinos agrees that with the current behavior of crypto exchange leadership trust is continuing to be damaged and what is need is strong regulation, control and corporate governance.

Exposure to FTX

In the past both CoinMENA and BitOasis had in their investment rounds received investment from FTX Ventures through Alameda Research. As such CoinMENA in a joint statement from both Talal Tabbaa and Dina Sam’an, Co-Founders, to LaraontheBlock clarified the following:  “FTX’s Investment arm Alameda Research invested $1 million in CoinMENA’s $9.5m seed funding round in 2021. All the funds were received prior to the close of the seed round. Their stake is less than 3% and has no voting rights. In light of the recent news, we have offered to buy back their minority stake.”

BitOasis also made a public blog post where it stated the following: “BitOasis confirms that it has no commercial relationship or exposure with Alameda Research (Alameda) or any other FTX entity. Accordingly, recent events at FTX and Alameda do not have any bearing on our business, or our ability to provide our customers with a safe and secure trading experience. In 2021, Alameda participated in BitOasis’ Series B financing round. As a result of its investment Alameda holds a 2.2% shareholding in BitOasis through Alameda Ventures Limited. Alameda is not represented (nor has it ever been) on BitOasis’ board of directors or on any governance forum or committee in any capacity. The shareholding is small and hence creates no exposure to our business.”

Matrix, Hayvn and MidChains founders confirm that they have zero exposure to FTX. Zupan stated, “We don’t have any exposure to FTX or any related party or similar protocols.” Al Askari as well confirmed, “Both our client funds and corporate assets are not exposed. We keep our (and our clients) funds in a safe boring 1:1 holding.” Flinos confirmed that they do not deal with unregulated counterparts.

Two crypto exchanges, RAIN in Bahrain and Veromex in UAE have not yet replied to the queries posed, if and when they do reply, their responses will be added.

Take Away

While up until now international exchanges have always looked more attractive because of their liquidity and the amount of crypto they list as well as their geographic coverage, it seems that those regulated in the region whether in UAE or Bahrain are looking more attractive because of their adherence to strong regulatory bodies.

A lot of news is coming out that international exchanges undertaking so called proof of reserves are not being transparent. For example Crypto.com’s cold storage revealed a suspicious transfer of 320,000 Ether worth $404 million, to Gate.io.  Kris Marszalek, CEO of Crypto.com assured traders that the transfer was accidental; funds were to be moved to a new cold storage address. Experts allege that the transfer helped Gate.io show its proof of reserves of user funds shortly after the transfer. Even more so it seems that 20 percent of crypto.com reserves are in Meme Token SHBB.

This also happened with Huobi. It was noted that after Huobi released the asset snapshot of the asset reserve, 10,000 ETH was transferred from Huobi to Binance and OkX deposit wallets. (Etherscan.io)

Binance CEO CZ also made an interesting tweet today November 13th 2022 where he says Binance is not just a CEX (Centralized Exchange). This comes as the crypto mood globally moves towards DEX (Decentralized Exchanges). In his tweet he gives advice on how to store crypto in your own wallet, and refers to trustwallet while saying that Binance is not just a CEX but provides other options.

In the end, the future is in decentralized exchanges, smart contracts, and blockchain databases for proof of reserves such as Etherscan.io and others. Crypto was never the culprit, it was molding crypto into a traditional financial sector that was.

Kevin O’ Leary, nicknamed “Mr. Wonderful”,  a Canadian businessman, entrepreneur, and television personality and an advocate of cryptocurrency stated that he recently became a UAE citizen because he wants to work freely in a region that has attracted investment by some of crypto’s heaviest hitters, including FTX, Binance and Crypto.com

This came as he announced at Converge22 Blockchain and cryptocurrency conference that he was launching a Web3.0 investment fund called Cipher with the lead investor coming from the UAE.

As he noted on stage, “We’ve got to get away from this speculative price of an asset here. We’ve got to find reasons that this technology gets embedded into the economy.”

He went on to say, “I recently became a citizen of the United Arab Emirates to work freely in a region that has attracted investment by some of crypto’s heaviest hitters, including exchanges FTX, Binance and Crypto.com. The new all-Web3 fund’s lead investor comes from the United Arab Emirates.  There’s a tremendous amount of capital and interest there to invest in this space.”

The Shark Tank investor also commented on Jamie Dimon, the chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., who called Bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies as “decentralized Ponzi schemes” during the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services hearing.

“This is my interpretation. He feels threatened by some of this technology, particularly around payments,” O’Leary said. “This isn’t about speculation on asset price. This is about reducing the fees of how the world’s economies work more transparent, more productive, completely auditable, regulated, but less expensive.”

O’Leary is a vocal proponent of Web3 technology as a spokesperson for cryptocurrency exchange FTX and an investor in financial technology company Circle, the issuer of the USDC stablecoin and the organizer of the Converge22 conference.

According to a recent report by FDI markets published in FDI Intelligence, UAE topped the list of countries with most crypto related FDI projects. UAE had a whopping 15 projects making it number one. It was followed by the USA which attracted 11 crypto projects; Brazil came in third with 7 projects, followed by UK, Lithuania at 4th place with 5 crypto projects, then Singapore in fifth place with 4 projects, followed by Canada, Australia, ( 3 projects each) and France, Sweden with 2 projects 

Some 98 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects were announced in crypto related activities in the first half of 2022, an increase of 145% from the same period in 2021. This number was higher than any pre-recorded database since 2016. It was also double the figure for the whole of 2021.

Most of the companies who announced FDI projects in H1 of 2022 were those that involve crypto services, such as crypto exchanges, who set up new physical presence in foreign countries.

This is true of UAE which attracted the likes of Binance, OKx, Huobi, crypto.com, FTX, and many others in 2022 since it announced its virtual assets regulatory authority. Today the UAE boasts of over 1200 crypto blockchain related entities and is seeking to attract 5000 Blockchain and metaverse companies in the next 5 years.

VARA has made public all the entities that are currently licensed under its authority. The entities fall under various categories including crypto exchanges, DeFi custodians, DeFi asset managers, DeFi service providers, and DLT platforms.

 As per VARA website in terms of native crypto exchanges, 13 crypto asset exchanges hold licenses. They include both international and regional players such as Binance, BitOasis, ByBit, CoinMENA, CoinMetro, Crypto.com, FTX (fully regulated with MVP license), GCEX Huobi, Midchains, Rain and OKx.

In terms of DeFi custodians, VARA has registered Hex Trust, Komainu, Monstera and ZampFi Labs . Hex Trust as one example is a fully-licensed and insured provider of bank-grade custody for digital assets. Through their proprietary platform Hex Safe™, they deliver custody, DeFi, brokerage, and financing solutions for financial institutions, digital asset organizations, corporate and private clients.

While ZampFi, is founded by: Amit Jain who was previously the Managing Director at Sequoia Capital. ZampFi is a digital banking entity.

VARA is also offering regulated licenses for DeFi asset managers. Names on the roster include Brevan Howard, Fintonia, Galaxy Digital, Nine Blocks and Noia Capital.

Bravan Howard asset management firm on Dubai VARA’s list has recently pulled off the largest crypto hedge fund launch as per the Block media. The firm’s flagship digital assets focused vehicle raised more than $1 billion from institutional investors, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter.

Brevan Howard Digital Asset Multi-Strategy Fund lost a scant 4% to 5% from inception through the end of June 2022, according to the source, even as the one-two punch of the implosion of Terra stablecoin UST and the insolvency of crypto lenders, such as Celsius and Voyager, locked price action and liquidity into respective death spirals.  “Their returns, relative to the market, are unbelievable,” another source adds.

Their strategies, including quantitative trades and relative-value plays, are implemented by teams of portfolio managers structured in so-called “pods” that feature supporting analysts and engineers. The division, additionally, now has more than 20 external blockchain engineers working under full-time retainers.

The global-macro-focused Brevan runs about $23 billion overall across a wide range of asset classes.

Brevan Howard Digital Asset Multi-Strategy Fund remains open to external capital, pursuant to a minimum check of $5 million. Its limited partners include a number of the world’s largest and most sophisticated hedge fund investors, including entities that have historically exclusively backed traditional financiers.

As for Fintonia, its Group founder Adrian Chng stated, “Dubai is making significant strides towards establishing itself as a virtual assets hub and creating a conducive environment for the industry’s growth. The virtual asset licence marks an important milestone in our aspiration to have a presence in every region where there are inn

As for Fintonia, its Group founder Adrian Chng stated, “Dubai is making significant strides towards establishing itself as a virtual assets hub and creating a conducive environment for the industry’s growth. The virtual asset licence marks an important milestone in our aspiration to have a presence in every region where there are innovative Web3 and crypto companies, enabling us to connect and collaborate with members of the crypto native ecosystem and the traditional financial services industry.”

Recently added is Nine Blocks Capital Management which was launched by PwC’s former global crypto head Henri Arslanian. Nine Capital has launched a $75m crypto hedge fund focused on institutional investors with the aim of becoming the world’s leading institutional grade crypto asset management firm as per a statement from the fund on launch.

The new fund is backed by $75m from Hong Kong-based hedge fund Nine Masts Capital Management, with additional investments from other partners.

Noia Capital has also joined the roster and is a Luxembourg based actively managed alternative asset manager pursuing excellence in digital assets and blockchain technology investments. As per the website the company is registered with CSSF and FSMA.

In terms of DeFi service providers the list includes Amber Group, Equiti, ScallopX, and TPS Capital.

VARA has also offered licenses to DLT platforms that include names such as Calvin Cheng Web3.0 Holdings, Mcontent, Polygon, and Woonkly Labs.

Finally in terms of DeFi services VARA has the following registered entities, BRE Holdings, Eros Investments, Hike, and Prypto.

VARA has yet to license NFT marketplace entities, crypto mining entities, and security token platforms.