In a recent visit between UAE, Hamid AlZaabi, Director General of the Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (EO AML/CTF), hosted a Moroccan national delegation led by Dr. Jawhar Al Nafisi, Chairman of the Moroccan National Financial Intelligence Authority, coordinated on initiatives with regards to anti money laundering and counter terrorism financing, with DIFC giving presentation on UAE experience in virtual assets.

Members of the EO AML/CTF presented on topics such as the National Strategy and virtual assets, and the UAE’s experience using AI to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. A joint discussion resulted in the agreement on specific areas of cooperation to be included in follow-up steps to implement the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between the EO AML/CTF and the Moroccan National Financial Intelligence Authority.

In addition Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) discussed the UAE experience analyzing cases related to virtual assets.


Hamid AlZaabi highlighted the robust cooperation between the UAE and Morocco and its significant impact on raising standards of compliance within the MENA region.

He stated, “Our two countries are united in commitment to combating financial crime and collaborate effectively on multiple levels, both bilaterally and through the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF). I am pleased that through our regular meetings, we have developed a comprehensive framework for cooperation and have launched several joint initiatives that are already making a difference. By sharing expertise and best practices, the expertise developed by each country can be leveraged to mutual benefit, to ensure safeguarding our financial regional system.”


Dr. Jawhar Al Nafisi, Chairman of the Moroccan National Financial Intelligence Authority, commented, “This visit underscores the strong strategic ties between Morocco and the UAE, as both nations aim to align strategies and visions on bilateral, regional and international levels, and share expertise to prepare for the upcoming mutual evaluation round. To ensure the sustainability of the efforts made to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, I am pleased to invite Director General, Hamid Al Zaabi to Kingdom of Morocco for progress discussions and to measure the effectiveness of joint committees established during the meetings held over the past two days.”
During the two-day meeting, the parties discussed ongoing bilateral cooperation activities. To further enhance the coordination efforts, both parties have decided to establish several joint committees, including ones to monitor standards and developments, technical committees, and a supervisory committee to track progress and ensure goal attainment.

It is noteworthy that although Morocco leads in terms of the number of crypto holders, it has still not regulated crypto and virtual assets.

WadzPay, a fintech blockchain based technology for virtual asset payment solutions, has announced its entrance into the Stablecoin business. According to the press release, this will shift Wadzpay’s strategy from one of being a virtual asset payments company to a blockchain financial services solutions provider. The new solutions will be organized as a new business and new brand. To ensure regulatory compliance, WadzPay will set up a new entity and will pursue approvals in UAE, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

WadzPay recently was granted a license for crypto brokerage by Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority, pending finalizing some requirements.

The decision to venture into the Stablecoin market comes as a response to the increasing demand for secure, transparent, and efficient digital payment solutions worldwide. WadzPay will introduce two main products: Stable Coin as a Service and its own regulated USD$ Stablecoin, designed for local and international payments, cross border remittances, and settlements of on-chain transactions related to RWA.

According to recent market research by Bernstein, the global market for stablecoins is projected to grow from $125 billion to almost $3 trillion in next 5 years. This growth is fueled by factors such as the rise of decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, cross-border remittances, and the need for stable digital assets to mitigate volatility risks in cryptocurrency markets.

By leveraging blockchain technology, WadzPay aims to provide users with a reliable alternative to traditional fiat currencies, offering stability, convenience, and speed at lower cost in transactions for merchants, businesses and individuals worldwide. With a focus on compliance and regulations, WadzPay is poised to address the growing demand for stablecoins while ensuring security and regulatory compliance in its operations. Apart from the traditional use cases, WadzPay will add some new and innovative uses of stablecoins to the mix.

With this strategic move, WadzPay aims to innovate in solving foreign exchange problems and will introduce an innovative first-in-market business model, setting itself apart from competitors. WadzPay will build a world class team under the new leadership to drive this business.

Founder & Group CEO of WadzPay, Mr. Anish Jain, emphasized the strategic significance of this expansion, stating, “Our entry into the stablecoin business reflects our dedication to meeting the evolving needs of our customers and staying at the forefront of technological innovation. With the growing adoption of virtual assets, particularly stablecoins, we see tremendous potential for growth and are excited to offer our expertise in this space, while remaining committed to compliance and regulations.”

Leading the initiative is Mr. Jason Sarria-Solis as the President – Emerging & New Business in charge of the stablecoin business. With over 20 years of experience in the technology and fintech industry, Mr. Jason brings a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record of driving business growth and innovation. He has led multiple projects spanning from founding and scaling a successful telecom startup in the UK to leading digital banking, embedded finance, and blockchain projects in Asia.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Jason Sarria-Solis expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “I am thrilled to join WadzPay at such a pivotal moment in the company’s journey. The stablecoin market presents immense opportunities for disruption and advancement in the payments, remittance, and on-chain settlement space, and I look forward to leading our team in delivering innovative solutions that meet the needs of our users and drive the company’s growth.”

WadzPay remains committed to its mission of revolutionizing the virtual asset financial services landscape with blockchain technology, and the expansion into the stablecoin business marks a significant milestone in this journey. With a focus on technological excellence, customer satisfaction, and strategic partnerships, the company is poised to emerge as a key player in the financial services ecosystem.

Dubai’s virtual assets regulatory accomplishments was the center of discussions at the recent event hosted by Dubai Digital Assets Association (D2A2), supported by Dubai Chamber of Commerce. On the one-year anniversary of VARA (Virtual assets regulatory authority) in Dubai, the forum provided a platform for industry stakeholders to review and analyze the development of the regulatory landscape for virtual assets and the challenges industry is facing.

The feedback and insights gathered during the roundtable discussion will be consolidated into a submission by D2A2 on behalf of the stakeholders to regulatory authorities for suitable action.

Participants included VARA, the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), several government authorities that are focused on developing the web3 ecosystem – such as Dubai Economy, DWTC, RAKDAO – to name a few, licensed Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) by VARA, and service providers such as lawyers, compliance specialists and forensic intelligence consultants.

During the Forum, VARA outlined the licensing regime it has put in place and process of licensing adopted to support the industry.  Industry Participants highlighted the areas where they seek clarifications, adjustments, or improvements in the regulatory framework.

The occasion also presented an opportunity for regulators, businesses, and all stakeholders to engage in a meaningful and open discussion about the future of Virtual Assets in Dubai. Participants were able to exchange views with the regulatory authorities and fellow industry participants.

Gaurang Desai, Chairman of the D2A2, commented on the occasion “At D2A2, it is important for us to bring together all stakeholders to bring out opportunities and challenges faced by each of them in order to arrive at solutions that are equitable and prudent for long-term sustainable growth of this nascent industry. We look forward to building on this momentum and becoming a trusted partner for industry participants and the regulators in time to come.”

D2A2 has the  goal of enhancing the ease of doing business in Dubai, driving positive economic impact, and further strengthening the emirate’s position as a leading global business hub.

DKK Partners FZE, subsidiary of DKK Partners a fintech company, has announced that it has been granted an initial approval by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) for crypto brokerage dealer services.

DKK Partners FZE will continue to work towards acquiring a full Virtual Asset Service Provider crypto broker license from VARA.

The VARA initial approval allows DKK FZE to move forward in the licensing process as they look to offer corporate and institutional customers in Dubai and the UAE access to stablecoin blockchain technology, utilizing USDT and USDC.

Khalid Talukder, Co-Founder and CEO of DKK Partners, stated, “It is an incredibly exciting time for DKK in the Middle East and securing the VARA Initial approval will enable us to continue making a splash in the region. Our expansion to Dubai last year was a huge success and we’re looking to extend our influence in the market by strengthening our compliance and innovation in the Virtual Asset space. This license is a game-changer for DKK and the digital asset landscape in Dubai empowering businesses to confidently engage in blockchain technology, benefiting from the stability of stablecoins and the regulatory framework.”

Victoria Albergini, Head of Partnerships for DKK Partners FZE in Dubai added, “Since our launch last year, DKK Dubai has gone from strength to strength and is now in a prime position in the rapidly evolving digital asset landscape. The VARA initial approval enhances our ability to serve the unique needs of corporate and institutional customers.”

It seems like almost every week or so new virtual asset service providers are seeking licenses in Dubai UAE. The latest already regulated in Cyprus and Mauritius, is B2 Prime Group. Its MENA entity, B2B Prime Digital MEA has been granted initial approval for a crypto broker, crypto exchange, payment and transfer license from VARA (Dubai Virtual asset regulatory Authority).

As per the press release, licensing remains subject to fulfillment of pre-operating conditions and qualifying for operational approval by VARA.

This milestone signifies the granting of Initial approvals from VARA for licenses covering activities of “Virtual Asset Exchange Services,” “Virtual Asset Broker Dealer Services,” and “Virtual Asset Transfer and Settlement Services”.

Eugenia Mykuliak, Founder of B2Prime, expressed her gratitude for this achievement, stating, “We are excited to contribute to the growth of Dubai’s ever growing Virtual assets ecosystem.”

Arthur Azizov, Co-Founder of B2B Prime Digital MENA added, “We are extremely proud and grateful to have received initial approval from VARA, which is a testament to our determination to maintain the highest standards in regulatory compliance.”We’ve built a powerful ecosystem that not only meets but exceeds the industry’s standards, guaranteeing a safe and efficient gateway to virtual assets for users. We are ready to move forward in the licensing process in our bid to offer secure and streamlined access to virtual assets, strictly adhering to VARA’s guidelines.”

“The receipt of the Initial Approval for all three licenses, particularly the Transfer and Settlement License, was eagerly awaited and has brought immense joy to our entire team. This achievement has undoubtedly inspired us to pour our absolute best towards securing the Virtual Asset Service Provider license”, stated Adriana Paredes Herrera, CEO of B2B Prime Digital MENA.

B2Prime Group, a Prime of Prime Multi-Asset Liquidity Provider, serves institutional and professional clients globally and offers compliant, reliable expertise across Forex, Crypto CFDs, and other markets.

Regulatory arm of Financial Free zone ADGM tells registered companies in ADGM that they have to adhere to the AML ( Anti money laundering) TFS ( targeted Financial sanctions) legislations and policies of the UAE Federal government. What this means is that even if companies have registered in ADGM as offshore or freezone entities they will still be legally bound to the UAE AML/TFS legislations which also include virtual assets.

The FSRA announced these  revisions that clarify the requirements that previously appeared in the AML Rulebook, reflecting the federal regulatory framework the UAE has put in place to combat money-laundering, the financing of terrorism and proliferation financing and ensure compliance with targeted financial sanctions. In particular, minor drafting changes have been made to the provisions relating to wire transfers in order to provide greater clarity that the FATF “Travel Rule” applies to Virtual Assets.

The revisions will be relevant to all firms subject to the provisions in the AML Rulebook, including authorized firms in the financial services sector and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions.

The amended AML Rulebook, as per FSRA ( Financial Services and Regulatory Authority) of ADGM asserts that “ The AML Rulebook is made in recognition of the application of the Federal AML Legislation in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”) of the Federal AML Legislation. Nothing in the AML Rulebook affects the operation of Federal AML Legislation.”

A Relevant Person’s Governing Body is responsible for establishing, maintaining and monitoring the Relevant Person’s AML/TFS policies, procedures, systems and controls and compliance with applicable AML legislationthe AML Rulebook, the Financial Services and Markets Regulations 2015 (“FSMR”), and all applicable Federal AML Legislation.

The FSRA in its amended rule book clearly states, “ Federal AML Legislation applies in the ADGM.”

According to FSRA,  the definition of Federal AML Legislation is broad. It includes all federal legislation as may be in force relating to money laundering, terrorist financing, proliferation financing, the financing of unlawful organizations and sanctions compliance including Targeted Financial Sanctions. Particular pieces of legislation to be aware of include:

(a) Federal Law No. (7) of 2014 regarding Combatting Terrorism Offences;

(b) Federal Decree Law No. (20) of 2018 on Anti-Money Laundering, Combatting the Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organisations;

Cabinet Decision No. (10) of 2019 concerning the Implementing Regulation of Decree Law No. (20) of 2018;

(d) Cabinet Decision No. (74) of 2020 concerning the Terrorism Lists Regulation and Implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on the Suppression and Combatting of Terrorism, Terrorist Financing, Countering the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and its Financing and Relevant Resolutions.

In addition FSRA has made it clear that it will hold the governing body and senior management of a registered entity as responsible for compliance with AML rulebook.

FSRA adds, that the Regulator expects the RBA (Risk Based Approach) to determine the breadth and depth of the Customer Due Diligence (“CDD”).

The same regulations apply when it comes to Sanctions. These UNSC obligations Targeted Financial Sanctions (“TFS”) are Sanctions issued by the UNSC or the U.A.E. involving asset freezing and other financial prohibitions targeted at individuals, entities or groups with the aim of combatting terrorism and terrorist financing, and countering the proliferation of WMD.

This also applies for FATF.

UAE Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (EO AML/CTF) and the Financial Monitoring Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan (FMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)  to enhance bilateral cooperation in the combatting of financial crimes with focus on virtual assets, public-private partnership (PPP), education and capacity building, and asset recovery.

Knowledge sharing will cover virtual assets, with both parties committed to improving regional and local understanding of the risks associated with ML/TF/PF related to virtual assets. It will also include public-private partnership initiatives with the counterparties agreeing to collaborate on the establishment of rules to exchange strategic and operational information between the public and private sectors to prevent and combat money laundering and terrorism financing risks.

Hamid AlZaabi, Director General of the EO AML/CTF, remarked that the signing of the MoU formalizes the commitment made by both countries to protect the integrity of the global financial system. “Effective strategic engagement and cooperation with international counterparties is essential in the fight against financial crime and is central to the UAE’s strategy. The signing of this Memorandum with the FMA in Kazakhstan is significant and comes at a time when the EO AML/CTF is working to strengthen its collaboration efforts with international partners over the long-term. We have decided to focus on four key areas to ensure that our coordination is targeted, allowing us to make a real impact in addressing the most pressing issues in AML/CFT today.”

Zhanat Elimanov, Chairman of the FMA, welcomed to MoU, and said, “This year the relationship between our countries in the AML/CFT field has reached a new level. We have managed to establish an effective exchange of strategic and operational information. This has contributed to the successful investigation of major cases on money laundering committed in our country. We are inspired by UAE’s achievements in implementing IT solutions in AML activities. With great respect, we will adopt this experience”.

IMF discussed its new draft methodology for the supervision of virtual assets during a recent fintech roundtable organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff, in collaboration with the UAE Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing. Interestingly the methodology project was financed by a number of countries including Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In attendance were participants from 15 countries including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the EO AMLCTF, stated, “The UAE continues to raise the effectiveness of its regulatory framework for VAs and VASPs to attract innovative firms and keep out illicit actors seeking to exploit the global financial system. We are delighted to partner with the IMF team to give supervisory authorities across the world the opportunity to strengthen international cooperation and be part of the design process of an important new methodology for VA/VASP supervision”.

Chady El Khoury, Deputy-Division Chief of the Financial Integrity Group within the Legal Department at the IMF, noted the broad consensus among participants on the need for urgent actions to mitigate the potentially significant ML/TF risks emerging from VA and VASPs.

He explained, “It is critically important that countries carry out robust AML/CFT risk-based supervision of VASPs, and that assessing the associated ML/TF risks is the starting point of an effective AML/CFT supervisory regime.”

Participants at the workshop identified a range of issues, including a lack of capacity and resources for supervisory agencies and data collection/analysis gaps. They agreed on the need for strong collaboration among AML/CFT supervisory agencies and upgrading existing ML/TF supervisory risk assessment models to accurately assess VA and VASPs.

In the absence of a clear solution to deal with data collection and related gaps, supervisors may need to rely on models that are more tuned into the inherent risks that VASPs pose with the decision on whether to incorporate data (e.g., transaction level analysis on VA flows) on a case-by-case basis. Finally, a more connected and active community for collaboration between AML/CFT VA and VASP supervisors would help countries to better understand and address cross-border ML/TF risks.

Over the coming months, IMF staff will follow up with participants and incorporate feedback on the methodology. Once finalised, the methodology will form part of the Legal Department of the IMF’s CD toolkit that the organisation will start providing to countries by mid-year 2025.

The methodology was developed under a project that is financed by a donor-supported Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland trust fund to finance CD in AML/CFT at the IMF with excellent support from the UAE to host the event.

As the woes pack up on Binance crypto exchange, first with the guilty plea from CZ, and then Ronaldo being sued because he promoted Binance products, the Dubai Virtual asset regulator VARA has made a statement that it is continuing to asses and monitor Binance activities to strict regulatory requirements, rigorous KYC and due diligence.

As per VARA, Binance FZE crypto exchange currently only holds a Minimum Viable Product [MVP] Operational License with VARA, which allows them access to a restricted client base. As such to date, Binance have on boarded approximately 180 qualified investors and institutional clients.

VARA notes that it  cannot comment on regulatory and enforcement actions taken on business conducted in other jurisdictions, but does assure, “ We have been, and will continue to be, closely monitoring ongoing developments and specifically how they relate to Binance FZE operations in accordance with our commitment to uphold market integrity, consumer protection, and the security of the domestic ecosystem.”

Binance while being one of the first to apply for a license in the UAE, has been late in receiving a license while others such as M2 in Abu Dhabi, RAIN crypto broker, CoinMENA, Fasset,  and many others have been able to become fully licensed.

It seems that Richard Teng, the new CEO of Binance will have a lot on his plate in the coming months.

UAE digital assets infrastructure provider Fuze has partnered with Abu Dhabi headquartered Wio Bank to empower its customers with virtual assets trading services.

Customers will be able to buy and sell popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, directly through Wio Bank’s recently launched application, Wio Personal.

Wio Personal is an intelligent everyday banking application redefining the way individuals see, manage, and grow their money. The personal banking application allows all customers to start investing simply and effortlessly. Wio Personal users can access thousands of global stocks, ETFs, fractional shares and even UAE IPOs seamlessly in a single, integrated app.

Speaking about the significance of the partnership, Jayesh Patel, CEO of Wio Bank PJSC, said, “The region is emerging as an important hub for cryptocurrency and there is a demand from customers for convenient, seamless access to crypto trading services integrated within their daily banking apps. As a business that was created to catalyze the digital banking ecosystem, we are excited at the opportunities this collaboration with Fuze provides, to better serve our customers and support the UAE’s forward-thinking transformation of the financial services sector. Fuze mirrors our own robust governance, compliance, and risk capabilities, so our customers can be confident in having secure access to Virtual Assets.”

Mohammed Ali Yusuf (Mo Ali Yusuf), Co-Founder and CEO of Fuze, added, “As a regulated provider, we are proud to partner with Wio Bank, which has already made tremendous strides in redefining banking for the modern era across the region. There is a clear synergy with our mission to build the future of finance and we look forward to supporting Wio Bank in delivering regulated, trusted crypto services to its flourishing customer base.”

In a recent UAE poll suggested 48% of crypto users lacked trust in crypto exchanges. Through such partnerships, neobanks can provide regulated options for their customers and help to increase trust in the crypto ecosystem.