Dubai: The Securities and Commodities Authority announced the start of receiving applications for licencing companies wishing to provide virtual asset services, on Sunday, following the approval of the authority’s Board of Directors on the decision to regulate providers of virtual asset services.
The Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) established clear requirements for the Virtual Assets (VA) sector to be fully regulated under VARA in the emirate of Dubai, including all businesses offering products and services associated with the sector.
VARA is working closely with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) and Free Zone Authorities (FZAs) towards meeting the set deadline of April 30 for all initial disclosure questionnaires (IDQs) across the sector to be received as the first step towards the migration of the market to a regulated regime.
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Under Cabinet resolution No. 111 of 2022 concerning the regulation of virtual assets and their service providers, which came into effect on January 15, 2023, all companies operating in or seeking to operate in this sector in or from the emirate of Dubai must be licenced by VARA.
Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of DET, said: “We are making progress with Dubai’s D33 Agenda which outlines our mission to establish the Emirate as the capital of the Future Economy anchored by Metaverse, AI, Web3.0 and Blockchain. The virtual assets sector that spans all these pillars is integral to the strategy presenting a dynamically evolving ecosystem that fuels all aspects of sustainable economic growth. Ensuring that our marketplace is secure, participants are responsible, and investors and consumers are effectively protected is our top priority. With key stakeholders responsible for commercial licensing across the emirate working closely to deploy VARA’s full market regulatory construct, we aim to set a benchmark that positions the emirate of Dubai as a global role model for VA sector development.”
Legacy market operators carrying out VA activities in Dubai (excluding DIFC) are required to declare their desire to undertake regulated activities by submitting an IDQ to their current licensing authority - DET or any of FZAs, by the final deadline of April 30, 2023. Upon subsequent receipt of an Application Acknowledgement Notice (AAN), operating VASPs will commence the appropriate course of action for those requiring to be regulated or registered under VARA by August 31, 2023.
Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Secretary-General of the Dubai Free Zones Council, added: “Dubai’s Free Zones have been an integral part of the business landscape for decades, providing startups, entrepreneurs and overseas companies looking to establish regional headquarters with access to a geographically strategic, multicultural, dynamic and bureaucracy-free environment. We have witnessed growing interest from virtual assets-focused entities who are keen to adhere to the VARA licensing regime. Adopting the new regulations, provides a safe and sustainable operating environment for VA companies and further establishes Dubai as a credible destination for this sector.”