A day after Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority issued a market notificiation stating that it had taken enforcement actions against BitOasis and advised investors and consumers that BitOasis’s MVP operational license is under review for not meeting mandated conditions, BitOasis replies back that this does not effect the services being offered to existing customers. 

BitOasis was supposed to satisfy certain requirements within 30-60 days of receiving their MVP operational license prior to being permitted to undertake any VARA regulated market activity. 

As such VARA is  exercising its authority to supervise and monitor compliance, assure fulfilment of prescribed conditions, impose remedial measures, and take necessary enforcement actions, including but not limited to holding BitOasis’ Licence status as non-operational.

In response to this BitOasis replied, “ BitOasis  ongoing work to fulfill select conditions associated with its Operational MVP License with respect to serving Institutional and Qualified Retail Investors. BitOasis is working closely with VARA on fulfilling the remaining conditions and is committed to providing a safe and secure service to its users.” 

BitOasis notes that the notification issued by Dubai’s VARA only covers institutional and qualified investors. BitOasis confirmed that it had not began offering thse services to these segments as they needed to fullfill all VARA mandated conditions under its Operational MVP license. 

As such according to the clarificiaiton by BitOasis, “This does not impact our ability to continue to provide broker dealer services to our existing retail users, although we undertake to not onboard any new clients until we have fully complied with VARA requirements.” 

BitOasis added that they are committed to remediate all outstanding post licensing conditions of their Operational MVP license as committed to the regulator, as well as working towards Full Market Product (FMP) licensing.  The clarification adds, “ We remain committed to securing a broker-dealer license, and operating a compliant, regulated platform in and from Dubai under VARA’s supervision. Transparency has always been a key value of our business – we will continue to update our community as we address these requirements prior to applying for an FMP license.” 

After Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority revoked the MVP ( Minimum Viable Product) license for BitOasis earlier this month, Binance has now announced that it is the first crypto exchange to receive an operational MVP license from VARA.

As per Binance blog, “Users who qualify will now be able to access regulated virtual asset services in Dubai under VARA’s investor protection and market assurance standards. This milestone achievement affirms Binance’s commitment to building a compliant exchange in collaboration with local regulators.”

Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority has issued Binance with an Operational Minimum Viable Product (MVP) license to operate virtual asset exchange services.

The blog goes further to state, “ We are pleased to announce that our Dubai subsidiary, Binance FZE, has become the first exchange to receive the Operational Minimum Viable Product (MVP) license from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA). “

The Operational MVP license enables Binance to offer services in Dubai approved by VARA, including exchange and broker-dealer services, initially to institutional and qualified retail investors.

The issuance of the operational MVP license follows Binance’s successful attainment of a provisional MVP license in March 2022 and a preparatory MVP license in September 2022.

VARA has now permitted Binance to operate two licensed activities: virtual asset exchange services and virtual asset broker-dealer services, limited to institutional and qualified retail investors in Dubai.

The progression from the Provisional License, granted in 2022, to an Operational MVP License, means eligible users in Dubai will now be able to access authorized services, including the ability to safely convert virtual assets to fiat under VARA-designated standards compliant with the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force.

Institutions and residents that qualify to use the services provided by the Operational MVP License in Dubai can do so knowing they’re under investor protection and market assurance standards tailored specifically for the virtual asset sector, and required by VARA for any licensees to provide regulated virtual asset services in Dubai.

Richard Teng, Head of Regional Markets at Binance, commented: “We are honored to be the first exchange to be granted an operational Minimum Viable Product License by VARA — a result of over a year of due diligence, collaboration, and consistent demonstration of responsible intent – that now allows us to be able to leverage the potential of a progressive regulatory framework, enabling innovation while furthering user protection. Operating within this regulated ecosystem, we are committed to ensuring secure and seamless customer migration, with robust Know-Your-Customer and Customer-Due-Diligence as part of the rigorous onboarding remediation as stipulated by VARA. Our priority is to be able to operate this first fully regulated exchange in, and from Dubai, in a FATF-compliant ecosystem, setting the stage for global scalability with uncompromised user assurance.”

Alexander Chehade, Binance Dubai’s General Manager, noted: “The last few years have cemented Dubai as a global virtual asset hub and we are excited to be a witness to that growth as we build on our operations here, with continued commitment to market and investor security. With this operational MVP license, all users onboarded through this platform can expect access to a trusted and regulated service that prioritizes security alongside compliance with highly specialized, tier-one virtual asset regulations under VARA. This milestone achievement is one step closer to providing even more users with access to our services and we are excited about the continued work in this space.”

VARA’s website has updated that status of Binance to an MVP operational license. In the meantime Binance has been retreating from various countries, includig Germany, France, Canada, Cyprus, Austria and the Netherlands as it also faces legal battles in the USA and UK. 

This is the third license Binance receives in the GCC region. The first license granted to Binance was in Bahrain, as well as in Abu Dhabi UAE through ADGM ( Abu Dhabi Global Market).

Crypto.com, a global crypto exchange seems it will soon  become the second crypto exchange in Dubai UAE to receive MVP operational license after BitOasis.

VARA’s public register had listed CRO DAX Middle East better known as Crypto.com as having an MVP operational license authorized for specific activities and product types. As stated prior, Crypto.com is only authorized to serve qualified retail and institutional clients, but VARA website has since then removed it and now states it has an MVP preparatory license. 

Sources close to the matter state that this is a sign that an operational license is soon to come. This would make crypto.com the first global exchange to receive an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) operational license from VARA. 

This comes after the UAE Central Bank recently announced its AML (Anti Money Laundering) and FTC for financial institutions dealing with VASPs.

Binance has also yet to receive its operational license and still holds the status of MVP preparatory license.

More and more global crypto exchanges are seeking to set up regulated licenses in UAE.

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.

As per Dubai VARA website, BitOasis, the crypto broker exchange has moved one step forward in its licensing process. It has become the first among VARA’s crypto broker dealers to receive MVP (Minimum Viable Product). operational license one step before the FMP ( Full Minimum Product) Operational License.  

CoinMENA, Scallops, and MidChains are still in the first stage as MVP provisional while GCEX has received an MVP preparatory license one step before MVP operational license.

BitOasis applied for VARA licensing in March 2022. At the time BitOasis had carried out crypto trades worth $4 billion. Ola Doudin Co-Founder and CEO of BitOasis has stated at the time, “  “We will continue to strive to offer our customers the most customized platform for their local needs in accordance with regulations that will best protect them both now and as the industry evolves.”

In April of 2021, BitOasis announced that it had been granted a a Financial Services Permission (FSP) from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but is still awaiting additional launch approvals as well.

BitOasis has raised a total of $30 million in funding from investors such as Alameda Research, Digital Currency Group, Global Founders Capital, Jump Capital, NXMH, Pantera Capital, Wamda Capital and others.

In October 2022 UAE based crypto exchange BitOasis, and MasterCard launched crypto card programs across the MENA region to facilitate day to day usage of cryptocurrencies at points of sale and ecommerce websites.

On Monday May 1st, Bitoasis in its official announcement and VARA made the following statements,

 Henson Orser, Chief Executive Office, VARA stated “We are pleased to welcome BitOasis to the MVP Programme phase. The VARA ecosystem aims to strike a balance between value creation, risk mitigation and enhanced investment opportunities with consumer protection at its core. BitOasis has demonstrated a strong commitment to operating with a firm bias for regulation throughout the licensing process. One of VARA’s founding principles is creating an equal opportunity regime for responsible VASPs and being able to onboard credible home-grown companies, like BitOasis, in addition to leading global platforms, allowing us to bring the shared learnings of our licensees to build the foundation for our global future economy.”

Ola Doudin, co-founder and CEO of BitOasis added, “We are extremely proud to receive VARA’s MVP Operational License. Becoming the first virtual asset trading platform in the MVP programme to attain an operating license is an important milestone for us and the Emirate of Dubai.”

 Samir Satchu, Senior Vice-President of Public Policy & Expansion at BitOasis noted, “Our commitment and ambition at BitOasis is to serve the GCC and MENA region through a network of regulated platforms and on the ground infrastructure. VARA’s MVP Operational License, as well as our in-principle approval in Bahrain, are important building blocks for that strategy. “

BitOasis is following in the footsteps of HexTrust crypto custodian who also received MVP operational license earlier this year.

VARA and UAE’s Security Commodities Authority both announced the commencement of licensing of already existing and new crypto entities. 

Article was updated on May 1st 2023 with quotes from VARA and BitOasis