Japanese Monex Group, which runs a crypto exchange and asset management has purchased a majority stake in Canadian 3IQ digital asset Fund manager, which was the first to list a Bitcoin Fund in the MENA region out of Nasdaq Dubai. 3iQ had received regulatory approval from DIFC in UAE to list the fund in April 2021 with UAE Based Dalma Capital is the syndicate manager for the fund expansion in the MENA region.

3IQ was also the first to launched regulated exchange listed funds for Bitcoin and Ethereum in North America. Fred Pye in an interview back in 2022 has stated that there would be new funds launched in MENA through Dubai.

Monex Group will acquire majority stake for $39.8 million according to Reuters.

In January 2021 3iQ digital asset fund, had marked the milestone achievement of 1 billion USD in the fund since it was launched in March 2020, which was a 900 percent growth from its previous record of 100 million USD worth of crypto in the fund.

3iQ recently unveiled the industry’s first-ever comprehensive suite of crypto hedge fund managed accounts through their innovative 3iQ Managed Account Platform (QMAP). This pioneering platform is not just a first but a revolution, seamlessly connecting institutions with cutting-edge digital asset alpha strategies. QMAP stands as a beacon of security, transparency, and efficiency, meticulously designed to meet the complex demands of institutional investors worldwide.

“Our long term strategy is to strengthen our asset management business, and by welcoming 3iQ to our group, we aim to achieve high growth by capturing the crypto asset management needs of institutional investors and crypto asset exchanges around the world, which are expected to grow in the future, ” said Yuko Seimei, CEO of Monex Group.

“We’re absolutely thrilled about this incredible opportunity to join forces with Monex Group,” said Frederick T. Pye, Chairman and CEO of 3iQ, “This partnership is not just about growth; it’s a thrilling leap towards realizing our dream. We’ve always been passionate about bringing regulated, innovative digital asset products to investors worldwide, and now, with Monex Group, we can turbocharge this mission. We’re eagerly looking forward to being a part of the Monex family, especially collaborating with Coincheck – Japan’s crypto exchange powerhouse with a staggering 1.8 million customer accounts. Imagine the synergy. With 3iQ’s expertise in crafting exceptional crypto-asset products, we’re poised to bolster Coincheck’s offerings, especially for institutional investors. This is beyond a win-win – it’s a joyous, groundbreaking collaboration that promises to reshape our industry!”

UAE based MADA Capital, a private investment fund has partnered with Web3 metaverse gaming platform Creta in its ecosystem growth fund.

As per the news release, Mada Capital actively participated in the fund at an early stage, being deeply impressed by Creta’s vision and technological prowess, which outshine competitors.

Creta, alongside Mada Capital, aim to  collaboratively lead the advancement of the web3 and gaming metaverse industries in the global market. Together, they aim to grow the fund, discover and support outstanding producers and content, and expand Creta’s ecosystem by fostering cooperation and nurturing technology.

The ultimate goal of CRETA is to form a coalition of world-class developers, creators, and producers, where numerous creators join and contribute their high-level creations. The company is building a new comprehensive gaming entertainment platform that will lead the next generation game/metaverse content industry.

The Creta Growth Fund aims to accomplish this by expanding the Creta metaverse in several ways, including the creation of content and a pool of talented developers. In doing so, it will bring a large number of talented Web3 developers and content into the Creta ecosystem. Numerous game developers, creators, and producers that the Creta Growth Fund will identify and collaborate with will not only increase the content lineup but will also allow Creta to go beyond the expectations of numerous game fans and creators early on. This will create synergies in PR, marketing, and community outreach that far exceed the size of the fund. As a result, as the ecosystem grows, the number of creators will grow, and their content output will further circulate and expand the Creta ecosystem.

Following the recent agreement, MADA Capital has committed to actively participate in the fund raising process for the Creta Growth Fund to include multi-billion dollar investments.

With big names like gaming legend Yoshiki Okamoto and genius producer Thomas Vu on board and with many more influential developers and producers joining, the launch of the Growth Fund is expected to accelerate the rapid expansion of Creta’s content and developer partnerships. The fund will also accelerate the acquisition of AAA titles, and catalyze the rapid growth of the ultimate Creta ecosystem, which is an ever-expanding, ever-circulating collection of worlds, multiverses, games, creator tools, and community SuperClub.

Creta is a global Web3 metaverse gaming platform headquartered in the UAE with offices in Japan and Armenia. The development of the Creta platform is led by Diverse, a Korean metaverse game developer specializing in high-performance game engines and excellent graphics technology.

The Web3-based metaverse gaming platform uses Locus Chain, public blockchain, and unlike traditional metaverses, it implements a super-sized multiverse where numerous metaverses can be combined and expanded with photo-realistic visual quality. In particular, Creta can significantly reduce infrastructure costs using the high-performance blockchain mainnet Locus Chain to replace most of the role of servers in online games.

Salah Alwaheb, Chairman of MADA Capital, said: “We are delighted to partner with Creta as it grows to become the dominant player in the next generation web3 gaming/metaverse platform market. The Creta Growth Fund will be backed by MADA Capital’s large funds, as well as royal families and high net-worth individuals from the Middle East.”

The big news in the region is the recent announcement by SBI Holdings that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Arabian Aramco, one of the leading energy and Chemicals Company, after SBI Holding established a digital asset venture in UAE with Standard Chartered.

The signing was between SBI Holding, Chairman, President and CEO, Yoshitaka Kitao; and Aramco’s President and Chief Executive Officer: Amin H. Nasser.

As per the press release, based on the MOU, SBI Holdings and Aramco will consider a business alliance in the areas of collaboration in the field of digital assets and co-investments leveraging both parties’ investment portfolios related to digital assets, as well as identifying Japanese startups in the digital asset field which have interests in expanding their business in Saudi Arabia and supporting their entry and growth.

It also includes launching various specific projects related to investments in the semiconductor field, including establishment of factories in both Japan and Saudi Arabia.

The scope of the alliance may be expanded upon agreement between the Company and Aramco.

SBI Holdings has been promoting the establishment of investment funds with local partners in the Middle East, as well as the construction of semiconductor factories in Japan, through a partnership with Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation. SBI Holdings recently announced a partnership with Standard Chartered to launch a $100 million Fund in the UAE to also establish a digital asset joint venture.

Through this partnership with Aramco, the parties will, together, leverage their mutual knowledge and resources to discuss further business opportunities in advanced technology fields, such as semiconductors, digital assets, etc. and contribute to economic cooperation between Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Furthermore, the SBI Group plans to establish “SBI Middle East” in Riyadh as a base of operations for conducting business in the Middle East, and is working towards further expanding its businesses in the region.

Saudi Aramco has made prior investments into Blockchain startups, including Data Gumbo, IR4Labs, VAKT, and others.

While Sanabil, the $3 billion fund owned by the government’s Public Investment Fund, is an indirect crypto investor. It mainly invests in other funds, with half its assets in venture capital (VC). They include commitments to crypto-focused Haun and Blockchain Capital as well as several other VCs with major crypto portfolios such as Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue and Tiger Global.

However this news on SBI Holding agreement with Aramco and its relation to the semi conductor business is significant given that recently USA forced Saudi backed fund Prosperity7 from investing in Sam Altman’s AI startup Open AI.  Prosperity7 has already invested as well in Blockchain, with Red Date Tech.

Japanese Nissan Formula E Team has partnered with UAE based Coral, registered as Carbon One in Dubai UAE to offset carbon emissions using blockchain technology for the upcoming 2023-2024 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

The partnership will bring transparency and verification to carbon credit markets.

UAE based Blockchain enabled Coral offers full transparency in the carbon market, by ensuring trust, veracity, and empowers individuals and organizations to take climate action responsibly. Together, we can make a difference.

According to the press release, the relationship with Coral is the next step in Nissan Formula E Team’s pledge to reducing its carbon emissions, following its award of the FIA 3 Star Environmental Accreditation in 2022. While the auto manufacturer is pioneering electric mobility, it is also scrutinizing its environmental impact and looking to accelerate improvements in green technologies in the motorsport world.

To reinforce its commitment, Nissan Formula E Team and Coral will use a Greenhouse Gas Protocol and Science Based Standards framework to accurately assess the carbon footprint of the racing team and will implement a robust credit scheme, providing full transparency on the squad’s carbon offset.

The goal for the partnership is to combine Nissan Formula E’s vast reach with Coral’s transparent and efficient platform, in order to increase awareness of the impact of carbon credits, directly contributing to global decarbonization and a cleaner future.

Tommaso Volpe, managing director and team principal, Nissan Formula E Team: “For both Nissan and Nissan Formula E Team, sustainability is of vital importance. We have recently renewed our FIA 3 Star Environmental Accreditation and are always looking for the next step to reduce our emissions. That’s why we are delighted to team up with Coral. When it came to choosing a partner to achieve our carbon neutrality goal, we wanted to make sure the trackability of our carbon offset is as accurate as possible. Coral’s CO2 offset is met through the most advanced innovation and is achieved in a bulletproof way. We’re looking forward to developing our relationship with Coral and working together for a greener future.”

Daniele Sileri, Founder and Head of Strategy, Coral: “We welcome the partnership and participation from Nissan Formula E Team,. This is an example to individuals and corporations that everyone should be able to take meaningful action in tackling climate change.”

In a recent tweet, Japan based Astar, EVM based smart contract Blockchain platform that seeks to be the future of multichain smart contracts revealed its plans to set up a base in the UAE. Astar is designed to become a hub for smart contracts on Polkadot and is backed by prominent investors that include Binance, Huobi, OKEx, Fenbushi, and others.

Sota Watanabe, Founder of Astar, stated in  recent tweet, “ My Abu Dhabi and Dubai business trip  was amazing. Met some government officials, investors and entrepreneurs here in UAE We plan to set up a local office here too. Our future is bright!”

In November 2022, Astar Blockchain Network onboarded Japan’s top mobile carrier NTT Docomo to collaborate on mass adoption of Web3 as well as its social implementation.

Then in late July 2023, Fireblocks, an enterprise-grade platform for institutional adoption of digital assets, integrated with Astar Network, an EVM and WebAssembly (Wasm) compatible smart contracts platform.  The collaboration could see more than 650 banks and institutional investors use Fireblocks’ technology to access and manage their digital assets, boosting institutional adoption of DeFi on Astar, the two platforms noted in their press release.

Komainu, a regulated digital asset custody provider created by Japanese investment bank Nomura, digital asset manager CoinShares and digital asset security company Ledger. has been granted a full virtual assets service provider license by Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority in UAE. The license was issued on August 18th 2023.

Prior to that Komainu had received in July 2022 the MVP license from VARA.

Komainu will be able to serve qualified retail and institutional clients both as a crypto asset custodian and offer custodial staking services. 

“We see tremendous opportunities to scale our business here amid a significant boom in assets driven by fund formation and exchange launches,” said Sebastian Widmann, Komainu’s Head of Strategy. “Dubai has a vibrant digital asset ecosystem and impressive talent pool, and we are proud to contribute to the growth of this innovative financial hub. Our presence and desirable regulatory status in the region marks another differentiator for us as we execute the next phase of our business.”  

Prior to this VARA had issued the first VASP license to Laser Digital Middle East FZE, the crypto arm of Japanese Nomura Holdings. Laser Digital now has a full crypto license that will allow it to offer virtual asset broker dealer and investment management services in the UAE.

Nomura owned crypto entities now have two full licenses in Dubai UAE, while others such as BitOasis has lost their active MVP operational license and are in the midst of being acquired by other players.

The UAE has been attracting crypto entities over the past two years, and is poised to be one of the leading regulated crypto hubs in the world. 

Updated August 22nd 2023

Japanese Fintech firm and UAE Al Fardan ventures have partnered to launch a blockchain real estate investment platform.  Japanese Fintech startup, Canaan Advisors and UAE Al Fardan Ventures have partnered to introduce Canaan Advisors’ Zenihub platform, a blockchain blockchain-based real estate investment platform that focuses on fractionalizing properties in emerging markets to the UAE. 

The venture will be led by Mr. Mohammed Ebrahim Al Fardan, a global technology leader from the Arab world with more than 33 years of experience, spanning from major multinational technology firms to investment firms, and with a strong and solid global network in gaming, artificial intelligence, Mixed Reality, FinTech, Blockchain, Internet-of-Things, and metaverse.

Tokumasa Yamashita, Founder of Canaan Advisors, stated, “There are lots of attractive real estate investment opportunities in the MENA region that are only accessible by a small group of extremely wealthy investors. We look forward to unlocking these investment opportunities and making them accessible to people of all income levels!” said Yamashita.

Yamashita adds, “Our vision is to make high-yielding real estate investment opportunities in emerging markets easily accessible to anyone. Our partnership with Mohammed E. Al Fardan enables us to enter the MENA market and expand our global footprint, and we are very excited about this opportunity

Said Mohammed E. Al Fardan explained, “Digitizing Real Estate assets has always been an important element in my plans, those who read my articles will remember that. It is time to make the MENA region a major global player in the industry. We will be revolutionizing the real estate investment market enabling everyone to invest in real estate project by digitizing the assets.”

Komainu,  a regulated digital asset custody provider created by Japanese investment bank Nomura, digital asset manager CoinShares and digital asset security company Ledger. has been granted a provisional regulatory approval from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority [VARA] to commence operational readiness. The provisional license will enable Komainu to be amongst the first fully regulated digital asset custody services to institutional clients in the region.

As per the press release, 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. The Custodian’s industry-leading services have been designed by security, financial services and cryptocurrency experts and have been approved by external auditors.

Komainu has elected to base its regional HQ in Dubai and participate in this fast-evolving global virtual asset valley – in order to establish its leadership in the provision of institutional-grade digital asset services across the wider region.

H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri, Chairman of VARA, said, “Komainu’s entry into VARA’s regime is symbolic of the confidence and credibility that the Virtual Assets industry is gaining when backed by such strong endorsement from traditional finance leaders like Nomura. Such acceptance and active participation of tier 1 global institutional finance firms is not only an affirmation of Virtual Assets being integral to the future of finance, but also indicative of the potential that this industry can offer for economic empowerment. Dubai is pleased to welcome credible players like Komainu into VARA’s virtual assets ecosystem.”

The regulatory license once received, will establish Komainu as one of Dubai’s first regulated crypto custody providers, bringing a much-needed service to the proliferating regional ecosystem. The endorsement from the Dubai Government strengthens the Custodian’s fast-paced growth projections, in line with their core underpinning of doing so in a secure, robust and regulated manner. With the continued support of the Dubai regulators, Komainu is set to be a first mover in the MENA region.

Sebastian Widmann, Head of Strategy at Komainu, said, “Dubai and VARA are establishing a new hub for digital asset businesses and bringing like-minded companies into the country to help establish its growing crypto ecosystem and we look forward to contributing to these exciting developments. Komainu actively works with regulators, partners and our clients to make sure that our platform is held to the highest of standards and this latest endorsement by the Dubai Government is a further testament to that fact. By expanding into the MENA region, we are bringing a much-needed service to institutions operating within a regulated crypto marketplace. We are excited to bring Komainu Yield as well as the other new services set to launch in the near future to this marketplace and thereby serve a new demographic of institutions.”