No Virtual Asset Service Provider Has Been Granted an Operating Permit in the UAE

Written by Johnson Philip

According to the United Arab Emirates virtual assets regulator, no crypto companies have been granted the full market product (FMP) license. Omar Sultan Al Olama, the country’s minister of state for artificial intelligence and digital economy, stated that as of last week, no crypto entity has been permitted to onboard any customers.

VARA Has Yet to Grant a Full Market Product License

The United Arab Emirates Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) has yet to issue a single operating license, according to the country’s digital economy minister Omar Sultan Al Olama. Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Al Olama confirmed that no crypto exchange, including Binance and FTX, has been granted permission to operate in the UAE. 

As per Al Olama’s remarks published on Laraontheblock, no crypto is yet to complete the VARA’s four-step process. Accordingly, this means “no one was able to onboard any customers even last week.”

In March 2022, Binance was granted a minimal viable product (MVP) license by the VARA, allowing it to provide a selection of virtual asset-related services to eligible retail and institutional investors in Dubai. Other crypto exchange platforms have also received similar licenses. Some of these exchanges have reportedly used these licenses as proof of their legitimacy when trying to attract clients.

VASPs Not Allowed to Offer Services to Mass Retail Consumers

However, the VARA has now clarified that the licenses issued to Binance and other crypto exchange platforms are only “Provisional” at stage one, or “MVP-Preparatory” at stage two.

The VARA has clarified that the MVP licenses issued to VASPs are only meant to allow them to meet certain requirements and prepare for the operation. The regulator also reiterated that no crypto entity has yet been granted a full operating license, as previously stated by Al Olama.

“No VARA licensee has, to date, been awarded an MVP-Operating permit, to provide regulated services or activities to their specifically authorized market segment(s) in the Emirate. Any information or representation to the contrary is inaccurate and misleading,” the regulator clarified in a market notification on its website.

Echoing Al Olama’s message at the WEF, the regulator said the MVP licensees are not allowed to offer their services to mass retail consumers “until the stage gate (4) FMP license approval has been secured.”

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