Laser Digital, crypto broker and investment service provider, a subsidiary of Japanese Nomura regulated in UAE by Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority, has launched their Ethereum Adoption Fund. The Fund, which invests in long-only spot positions in Ethereum, also deploys a yield enhancement strategy by staking the Ethereum held by the fund.

Prior to this Laser Digital Asset Management launched in September, the Bitcoin Adoption Fund.

The ‘Laser Digital Ethereum Adoption Fund SP’ is a segregated portfolio of Laser Digital Funds SPC (a segregated portfolio company incorporated with limited liability under the laws of the Cayman Islands under registration number MC-401019).

Komainu, also regulated in UAE and UK will provide secure, regulated custody for the fund’s assets.

On launching the fund, Sebastien Guglietta, Head of Laser Digital Asset Management commented, “Technology is a key driver of economic growth and transforms a large part of the economy from being analogue to digital. Ethereum is one of the enablers of this long-lasting transformational change. Hence, being exposed to Ethereum in the long run is considered a solution to capture this structural technology trend and the pace at which the Web 3.0 economy expands its network effect.”

 Fiona King, Head of Distribution, Laser Digital Asset Management added: “We’re excited to now be able to offer institutional investors a regulated product to allow investment and even staking in Ethereum. Our product simplifies digital asset investment strategies, driving institutional engagement securely.”

Laser Digital was launched by Nomura and was co-founded by Steven Ashley, who previously led Nomura’s wholesale division and Jez Mohideen, who was Nomura’s Chief Digital Officer and Co-Head of Global Markets EMEA. Headquartered in Switzerland, Laser Digital combines the rigor, best practices, and capabilities from global investment banking with the experience of a crypto-native team.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Soham Panchamiya, Associate for tech companies and regulatory disputes at Reed Smith, one of the leading global law firms with more than 1,500 lawyers in 30 offices throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, announced that they are expecting Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) will fully license 15 entities before the end of 2023.

According to Panchamiya, “New developments continue to come forward in the UAE VARA in Dubai is making great strides to earn its stripes as the premier regulator for crypto and Web3 companies in the world.”

He also expects major announcements and change for game-fi, DeFi and crypto derivatives.

So far Dubai VARA has already fully licensed four crypto exchange, brokerage, and custodial firms. Most recently is BackPack exchange, TOKO, received full crypto exchange licenses, while Komainu received full crypto custodial and custody staking services. VARA was one of the first regulators globally to issue crypto staking regulations.  The fifth license was given to Laser Digital for crypto broker and investment services.

On VARA’s register listing are 11 entities that have either received a full license or at the MVP preparatory or operational phase. These include names such as Bybit crypto exchange, Binance, OKX,, GCX exchange, as well as Hextrust crypto custodian. Meanwhile, BitOasis license is still inactive, after it had received MVP operational license.

There are others who have received preliminary approval not listed on VARA website.

Given the current numbers, VARA will be licensing 11 more entities before the end of the year.

In August 2023, the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism and Dubai VARA signed an MOU to unify VASP (virtual asset service provider) offering in the city. The two entities are collaborating to offer a synchronized VA market assurance across the Emirate of Dubai –spanning Customer Care + Complaints; [Business] On-Site Inspection + Enforcement; [Business] VASP Registration + Licensing; [G2G + G2B + G2C] Education-Training-Knowledge Sharing.

During DACOM (The Digital Asset Compliance and Market Integrity Summit) hosted by Solidus Labs, a crypto-native market surveillance and risk monitoring hub tailored for digital assets, in Abu Dhabi in May  2023, Henson Orser CEO of VARA stated, that the future will include tokenization of real world assets, including real estate, as well as micro financing, royalty rights for creators and publishers, with smart contracts for movies /music, permissioned DeFi (Decentralized Finance), gaming and the metaverse. Here he sees, “A billion users will start to challenge the boundaries of title and value” and finally interoperability, transfers identity and more.

Furthermore in an exclusive LaraontheBlock interview with Henson Orser, discussing VARA stated that while the term DeFi is not specifically referenced in the 7 Rulebooks from VARA, DeFi lies very much at the core of Dubai’s Future Economy considerations. Orser explained that VARA’s Rulebooks have focused on facilitating borderless ‘value-exchange’ both in the traditional and new economy contexts, by leveraging a full spectrum of cross-cutting ‘activities’, which should not in any way be construed as TradFi specific.

He stated, “We are well aware that in this sector new technologies and products will be continually emerging, and constructively challenging traditional financial systems. It is exactly for this reason that VARA has been constructed as a technology agnostic and product-neutral framework that allows us to remain progressive and future-focused.  This means that our regime will provide for R&D sandboxes to test, learn and evolve prototypes across DeFis and DAOs today, to wider innovations across Metaverse and Web3.0. As we have maintained, the VARA Regulations will strike a measured balance between remaining agile so we benefit from future waves of technological innovations, yet being definitive in their ability to provide the required market certainty, FATF assurances, and cross-border security which are non-comprisable to us.”

In September 2023, VARA updated its virtual asset rulebook and added new regulations with regards to what it calls Fiat referenced virtual asset ( FRVA) better known to most as virtual assets pegged to a stable value, or stablecoins.

Prior to that VARA opened the door to regulate crypto staking services with its revised Custody Services Rulebook, allowing staking by virtual asset custody Service providers. As per the revised rule book, virtual asset service providers who carry out custody services can offer staking services as well without obtaining a separate license for VA Management and Investment Services. Additional licensing and supervision fees will be payable in connection with the provision of this additional service.

As per Panchamiya in his post, he states, “Not a bad start. It remains to be seen how viable the industry sector is going to be moving forward as the continuance of the bear market dampens spirits worldwide, but with the spot ETF movements in the US, the recent wins in courts and the continued regulatory developments, it seems that market players and UAE regulators are bullish.”

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 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.

Dubai’s regulator is currently pushing forth its crypto custodial licenses. Last week VARA ( Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority) provided Komainu DeFi, digital asset custodian with a provisionary license and today it has provided Hex Trust, fully licensed and insured provider of bank-grade custody and associated services for digital assets a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) license. 

The MVP license will allow Hex Trust to provide a wide range of virtual asset services to institutional clients and sophisticated investors] in Dubai within its framework for virtual asset service providers (VASPs). The range of services Hex Trust can now provide includes Virtual Assets custodial services, Broker-Dealer Services and Staking Services. 

 Hex Trust opened its Dubai office in June 2022, which is run by Filippo Buzzi, and serves as its headquarters for the MENA region.

Filippo Buzzi, Regional Director MENA of Hex Trust, commented, “Becoming one of the first virtual asset companies and custodian to receive the license is a big step for Hex Trust as we establish ourselves in the MENA region. We recognize the enormous potential this region has to build one of the leading virtual asset hubs in the world. Hex Trust looks forward to expanding our client base in Dubai following the license approval and making a positive contribution to the VA ecosystem in the region. 

Alessio Quaglini, cofounder and CEO of Hex Trust, commented, “From day one, Hex Trust was built to follow the strictest compliance policies and adhere to regulatory standards across the main jurisdictions. Being amongst the first companies to be granted the MVP is exciting, given the enormous potential of the sector in Dubai.”

Komainu, listed on VARA website as a DeFi (Decentralized Finance) digital asset custodian has received its minimum viable product license from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA). This is following the issuance of its provisional approval in July 2022. This is a interesting development given the recent FTX scandal and the migration of crypto wallets from centralized exchanges to self custody.

Komainu can now offer an approved range of virtual asset related services to institutional investors in Dubai within an internationally benchmarked legislative framework for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) following completion of its readiness requirements.

The transition to an MVP license, from a provisional approval received earlier this year, means the firm can provide institutional clients in the UAE with Virtual Assets Custodial Services and Virtual Assets Management Services.

Komainu MEA is the first ‘dedicated’ institutional digital asset custodian to receive its MVP license approval from VARA.

Helal Saeed Al-Marri, chairman of VARA stated, “In this current phase of heightened global appreciation for responsible virtual asset participant, VARA is pleased to on board our first tradFi VASP Komainu to join the MVP phase of the regulatory regime. Participation from the VA specialist ventures of deeply respected global financial institutions, allows VARA the opportunity to structure interoperable guidelines and risk mitigation levers for secure market operations.”

Nicolas Bertrand, CEO of Komainu, commented: “Komainu actively works with regulators, partners, and our clients to make sure that our platform and the overall industry is held to the highest of standards to facilitate the wide adoption of virtual assets by institutions. With the full MVP license now granted by VARA, we look forward to launching our services in the MEA region and assist institutions gain exposure to virtual assets, whilst relying to secure and regulated virtual asset custody services.”

Komainu’s CEO is currently attending the AIM Investment Summit in Dubai UAE.

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.”