Crypto Companies Can Now Apply for Licenses Under UAE’s Securities Regulator

The UAE says that virtual assets “may not be traded in the country” unless accepted by its federal securities regulator


Allexxandar/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


The United Arab Emirates said Monday, April 17 that its federal securities regulator will be accepting applications from companies that want to provide crypto services in the country with the exception of virtual asset companies that are already operating in financial free zones. 

There are over 40 free zones within the UAE that allow full foreign ownership as well as exemptions from corporate and income taxes. 

Last November, the Council of Ministers defined the services that would fall under the license requirement from the securities regulator. 

This included virtual asset platforms, which list, trade, or transfer ownership of virtual assets, as well as platform operators and services providers. Also listed were distributed ledger technologies, including digital databases that track and share virtual assets, and stored value facilities–meaning “non-cash facilities that are purchased by a user as a mean of payment for commodities and services.”

The cabinet also clarified requirements for licensed virtual asset companies, which include efficient technical systems that can protect investor data.

However, companies that want to operate in Dubai will also have to obtain a license from the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority, in addition to the necessary approval from the Securities and Commodities Authority.

Dubai, which has become a home for hundreds of crypto start ups, launched VARA in March 2022 to oversee crypto trades as well as product issuances. 

Some firms have also been granted provisional licenses following plans to enter the UAE. Binance,, OKX and Komainu have all revealed plans to enter the UAE.

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