Diment, with a presence in UAE, within DMCC ( Dubai Multi Commodities Centre), a virtual asset service provider that is issuing a stablecoin backed by diamonds, has received an initial approval for a license from Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority (VARA). Diment will act both as a digital currency and a digital asset for store of value.

As per Diment website, the Diment Dollar is a digital product that redefines the concept of “value-security” in the financial world by reinventing the present stablecoin model. As the first Stablecoin with a fixed price of 1 USD and a token supply fully backed by the underlying diamond reserve value in USD, Diment Dollar operates in a reverse mode compared to present stablecoins by creating value first.

In a press release, Diment VA Exchange Services DMCC announced its Initial Approval from the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority of Dubai – VARA. As per the press release, “This Initial Approval marks a significant milestone for Diment, setting the stage for future regional growth and development in the Crypto Space. While the Initial Approval is a pivotal achievement, it does not yet allow the commencement of any virtual asset activity in or from Dubai. Diment emphasizes that it is still in the process of working towards receiving the full VASP license and approval from VARA.”

“Receiving VARA’s initial approval is a testament to our dedication to regulatory compliance” said Max Weiland, CEO at Diment. “Diment is determined to launch with strict adherence to VARA’s requirements, ushering in a new era of secure and seamless access to the world of virtual assets and build a robust ecosystem that not only meets but exceeds industry standards, seeking to establish a safe and efficient gateway to virtual assets for users Locally and Globally.”

Diment VA Exchange Services DMCC is a setting up as a Broker-Dealer platform in Dubai with the aim to establish a safe and efficient gateway to virtual assets both locally and globally.

VARA has included stablecoin regulations amidst its framework, so it would seem that VARA could become the first regulatory authority to regulate a stablecoin VASP.

The supply of stablecoins circulating on blockchains is increasing, with investors adding $4.2 billion worth of dollar-pegged cryptocurrencies since the start of the month. April 2 was the biggest day for stablecoin inflows with $1.38 billion worth added, data from DefiLlama shows. It’s the biggest single-day increase since March 11 2023.

This article was updated at 13:11 GMT+3 based on information that Diment applied for a broker dealer license.

CoinMENA has just become one of the first crypto broker from the MENA region to receive a full VASP (Virtual asset service provider license from VARA). As per the license CoinMENA can offer crypto broker services to institutional investors, qualified investors and retail clients.

With this CoinMENA becomes the 10th VASP to receive a license from Dubai’s regulator. CoinMENA already has a license in Bahrain and serves clients across the MENA region.

In August 2023 MENA CoinMENA came out with a new marketing campaign announcing that as a licensed exchange it is serving more than 250,000 users across 8 countries including Bahrain, UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Iraq and Egypt, stating its intentions to expand its base.

Still not to receive are Binance, Bybit, and Crypto.com, while BitOasis has been removed totally from VARA’s registered VASP list.

This comes after M2 launched its operations out of Abu Dhabi.

GC Exchange part of the GCEX Group, has been granted an Operational VASP Licence for VA Broker Dealer services from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA)

GCEX, which opened its Dubai office in July 2022 and received its MVP (Minimal Viable Product) Preparatory Licence from VARA in February 2023, can now start market operations as a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) in the Emirate of Dubai, enabling brokers, hedge funds, family offices and professional traders to access its deep liquidity in digital assets and range of technology solutions.

GCEX facilitates institutional access to digital assets through its proprietary XplorDigital trading solutions, which comprises of a technology-agnostic platform covering regulation, regulated custody, the safety of funds, tier 1 liquidity and technology (both back-end and front-end). GCEX only partners with regulated institutional digital custody and staking providers and always segregates client funds.

Mehtap Önder, Managing Director, GCEX in Dubai, commented in a press release, “VARA is leading the way in the global digital asset industry, and we are extremely proud to be one of the first firms to receive a VASP Operating Licence to provide Virtual Asset Broker-Dealer services and the first firm to gain approval to operate with a client money account, highlighting our focus on client protection.Being a regulated entity in the region is important to us – it’s the ideal way to demonstrate our commitment to adhering to international standards and implementing robust processes, with transparency and investor protection at the core of our offering. This is a major milestone for our business and is critical to GCEX’s growth strategy, enabling us to have a stronger presence in the region.”

GCEX Group enables institutional clients to access deep liquidity in FX and CFDs on digital assets, as well as digital assets spot trading and conversion and a broad range of trading solutions. Headquartered in London, with multiple offices across the globe, GCEX is regulated by the UK’s FCA and registered with the Danish FSA. True Global Ventures are investors in GCEX.

To date five crypto exchanges, Fuze, BackPack, Toko, Laser Digital, and GCEX have received full licences to operate in UAE under the VARA regime, with Crypto.com still awaiting final sign offs before it receives its full VASP license. The more well global names such as Binance, ByBit, OKX have yet to receive theirs, while BitOasis remains in frozen status.

Dubai regulated virtual asset broker and exchange TOKO FZE a creation of international law firm DLA Piper, has partnered with  Virtuzone, a pioneer in business solutions and corporate services for the region. The partnership will include the establishment of a tokenized equity crowd funding platform will further cement Dubai’s standing at the forefront of financial innovative and as a destination for early stage and fast growth companies seeking a supportive business environment.

TOKO has just received a fully operational license from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA).The partnership with Virtuzone is set to transform early-stage private equity fund raising using blockchain technology to bring enhanced transparency, accessibility, and opportunity for both investors and the businesses seeking to raise funds. Across a variety of compelling businesses, investors will have greater insight, information and access to private equities for their portfolio and the expectation of greater liquidity that comes with this digital transformation.Scott Thiel, Managing Director of TOKO, says “The VARA regulatory framework has been custom designed for virtual asset transactions, providing a robust and clear route to market that is going to support the transformation of investments and facilitate financial inclusion.  We are excited to be partnering with Virtuzone in tokenising early-stage equity investments. At TOKO, we believe in improving the world and reshaping the virtual asset management landscape through cutting-edge technology, regulatory compliance, and a user-centric approach, and this partnership with Virtuzone provides a wonderful platform to achieve this”.By tokenising early equity offerings, TOKO and Virtuzone will open up access to a broader range of investors, allowing both institutional and individual investors to participate in a more accessible and transparent manner.The partnership is poised to take full advantage of VARA’s regulatory framework to drive positive change in the financial services sector. It will create a revolutionary platform for SME-sized companies, enabling them to engage in early equity fundraising with ease.Neil Petch, Chairman and Co-founder of Virtuzone, says: “Since our founding 14 years ago, our mission remains the same – to ease the way for entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs and equip them with all the tools they need to succeed. We are therefore thrilled to partner with TOKO, under the VARA regulatory framework, and introduce tokenised equity offerings, which we believe will make Dubai an even more attractive destination for startups and entrepreneurs seeking funding, as well as for angel investors and venture capitalists looking to be part of Dubai’s thriving business sector. Our strategic collaboration with TOKO also aligns with the UAE’s National Entrepreneurship Agenda, which aims to establish the UAE as home to 10 unicorn companies by 2031.”This partnership between TOKO and Virtuzone represents a transformative step forward in the evolution of Dubai’s innovative financial landscape. By introducing tokenised early equity fund offerings, the collaboration will not only empower businesses but also create exciting opportunities for investors.

Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority VARA opens the door to regulated 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 withouth obtaining a separate licence 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 the amendments,  VASPs Licensed by VARA to carry out Custody Services may only provide Staking from Custody Services, if explicitly authorised to do so by VARA, and such authorisation is expressly stipulated in their Licence.

There will be incremental fees for custody services.

VASPs who are authorized to offer staking services, will have to comply to all the rules related to custody services while they are offering their staking services as staking services is a subset of crypto or virtual asset custodial services. VASPs can only offer staking services to the clients they are providing custody services to. As per VARA,  “  For the avoidance of doubt, VASPs Licensed by VARA to carry out Custody Services that are also authorised to provide Staking from Custody Services, may only provide Staking from Custody Services for Virtual Assets for which they are providing Custody Services.”

As for client protection VASPs can only act on the explicit instructions received from their clients.

The first VASP to have both a custodial and staking license was Komainu which recently received its full license from VARA.

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

While the Oman Capital Markets Authority awaits feedback for its virtual assets framework consultation paper, it has approved registry of Oman’s Easy Coins, a non custodial crypto provider, as the first VASP in the country.

Easy Coins has been operating in Oman for over two years. In December 2022 Easy Coins launched its trial of Tether USDT on the Tron Blockchain. Accordingly Easy Coin users in Oman could purchase TRC20 USDT.

Prior to that The Oman Water and Waste Water Services Company ( OWWSC), member of Nama Group, trialed its stablecoin linked to the Oman Riyal. The company signed an MOU with Oman based Digital Digits, the creators of Easy coins and Connected Chains to trial “ Hasalah” a stablecoin Wallet.

Easy Coins was launched in Oman in June 2021, as a non custodial crypto Brokerage platform, The platform is powered by Quantoz Blockchain Technology for financial services, and running on Nexus from connectedChains and supported by ThawaniPay.

Given that Easy Coins was already self regulating and adhering to CMA’s FATF KYC nad AML requirements, they were considered the first to be registered as a VASP seeking full license in Oman.

Dr. Khalid M.W. Tahhan, Co-Founder, Easy Coins ME stated, “We at Easy Coins believe that innovation from society will always be ahead of any regulator in any industry and nation. Thats why for vision 2040’s primary innovation pillar to be properly realized, it is essential that innovation from society should not be slowed down or hindered till regulators catch up, but rather it is essential for innovators to innovate and regulators to catch up with them rapidly. We commend the capital markets for their rapid response and acclimatization towards innovations in virtual assets and believe with such adaptable regulators, this industry will have a healthy place in Oman to flourish.”

Speaking to LaraontheBlock Tahhan explained, ” Registration is stage one which means we were cleared for KYC, AML, CDD requirements, full licensing is the next stage and will happen next year. Today we are allowed to operate because our risk measures are covered.” 

HH Sayyid Azzan Bin Qais Al Said Co-Founder of Easy Coins added “ Easy Coins has been in operations for two years and has been self regulating its operations since its launch. Hence when CMA initiated its registration process for Virtual Asset Service Providers, we were able to instantly meet CMA’s and FATF’s KYC/AML requirements.“

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.

UAE based HAYVN, a digital asset payment, trading, custodian service provider regulated in the UAE, Cayman Islands, Australia, British Virgin Islands, has also received a VASP ( Virtual asset service provider) license from European jurisdiction, Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) has provided HAYVN with a VASP license.

According to HAYVN, by obtaining the VASP license from the Lithuanian regulators, HAYVN is further equipped to offer its suite of services throughout Europe.

“We are delighted to have obtained the VASP license from Lithuanian regulators,” said Christopher Flinos, CEO of HAYVN. “This achievement solidifies our position as the trusted and compliant European cryptocurrency provider, enabling us to deliver innovative solutions to clients across Europe. HAYVN remains committed to upholding the highest standards of regulatory compliance and security, as we continue to expand our presence and contribute to the growth of the digital asset ecosystem globally.”

Leago Papo, Director of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at HAYVN, added, “Obtaining the VASP license from Lithuanian regulators is a significant milestone. We have worked diligently to ensure that our operations adhere to the most rigorous compliance standards. This license reaffirms our commitment to maintaining regulatory compliance across multiple jurisdictions and showcases our dedication to building trust with our clients and regulators alike.”

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.