The New UAE Virtual Assets Regulations and What That Means for the Global Crypto Space

In March 2022, Dubai took another step towards establishing itself as a global crypto headquarters by adopting its first law on virtual assets and establishing a regulator for the growing sector. The new law serves as a progressive regulatory framework for the emerging virtual asset market, setting industry-defining standards and improving the Emirate’s standing in the crypto sector. However, the broad scope of the law also raises important questions regarding implementation for crypto companies and investors.

The Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, confirmed the adoption of the new law in a statement:

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“Today, we approved the virtual assets law and established the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority. A step that establishes the UAE’s position in this sector. The Authority will cooperate with all related entities to ensure maximum transparency and security for investors,”

The law on the Regulation of Virtual Assets (DVAL) came into effect on March 11, 2022, and governs virtual asset-related activities. The law also foresees the establishment of the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), an independent public entity tasked with authorizing virtual asset-related activities and establishing the rules that govern such activities. The new law will apply throughout Dubai, including free zones and special development zones, but excludes the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

VARA is tasked with regulating the issuance of new crypto tokens, regulating the trading of virtual assets, ensuring high standards of protection, and monitoring transactions. In a move that most affects the global crypto market, DVAL requires anyone seeking to engage in crypto-related activities to get authorization from VARA, and those seeking to work in virtual assets need to establish a presence in Dubai.

As it stands, it is not fully clear how the new law will interact with existing federal laws and regulatory bodies. VARA’s domain overlaps with that of the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) and the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE). The two entities are tasked with regulating financial activity and assets. DVAL cites how VARA  is linked to the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA), the public entity that oversees the Dubai World Trade Centre free zone, and shall coordinate with the CBUAE. For its part, the SCA has entered a Memorandum of Understanding with DWTCA to support the regulation of virtual assets in the free zone.

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Over in Abu Dhabi, The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has also introduced a comprehensive regulatory framework for the regulation of virtual asset activity. The framework is intended to facilitate the operation of virtual asset industry leaders in the Emirate; limit the risks of market abuse and financial crime, and to improve consumer protection, technology governance, and custody and exchange operations. The regulatory environment can get complicated when it comes to the relationship between the different regulatory authorities. The situation may seem daunting to new investors in the crypto sector. Platforms like Blockfinex provide investors with a user-friendly interface that helps them to quickly get onboard and trade cryptos in minutes.

Blockfinex, an industry leader in crypto, allows for multi-currency trading at any time. The service also boasts the fastest matching engine in crypto, making it the solution for the fastest transactions in the industry. The service provides market-leading liquidity, which empowers investors to trade on-demand without delay after signing up. Most importantly, all of these services come at a lower trading fee when compared to leading competitors in the crypto sector.

The UAE is already a popular destination for actors in the crypto sector, the new regulations are sure to draw more investment, but until the regulatory framework is properly established, questions remain on how exactly it will shape the global crypto space. In the meantime, crypto investors can rely on industry leaders like Blockfinex to get their start in the fast-growing sector.

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