Digital asset custodian Komainu awarded 'viable product' licence by Dubai regulator

The US-based company can now offer virtual asset services to institutional investors in the emirate

Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority aims to create a framework to protect investors while promoting responsible business growth in the emirate. Reuters
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Komainu, a digital asset custodian for institutions, has received a minimal viable product (MVP) licence from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (Vara), the company said on Tuesday.

The company — a venture between Japanese investment bank Nomura, digital asset manager CoinShares and digital asset security company Ledger — received provisional approval to operate in Dubai in July.

The transition to an MVP licence means Komainu can offer an approved range of virtual asset-related services to institutional investors in Dubai, the company said.

The services will be offered within an internationally benchmarked legislative framework for virtual asset service providers (Vasps).

With the MVP licence approval, Komainu will be the first “dedicated” institutional digital asset custodian.

“In this current phase of heightened global appreciation for responsible virtual asset participant, Vara is pleased to on-board our first tradFi [trade finance] Vasp, Komainu, to join the MVP phase of the regulatory regime,” Vara chairman Helal Al Marri said.

“The Vara regime is structured to catalyse collaboration and prioritise public protection, with a mission to provide a progressive regulatory framework for the virtual assets industry.”

Vara was established by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in March under the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Law, the first law in the emirate that regulates virtual assets.

The body aims to create an advanced legal framework to protect investors and provide international standards for virtual asset management to enable responsible business growth in the emirate.

Over the past few months, a host of cryptocurrency trading platforms have secured licences to operate in Dubai.

These include CoinMena, Bahrain's Sharia-compliant cryptocurrency asset trading platform, as well as Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, BitOasis, Bybit and the now-bankrupt FTX.

US-based Komainu acts as key gatekeeper to institutions gaining exposure to the virtual asset industry, and its services have been designed by security, financial services and cryptocurrency experts.

“With the full MVP licence now granted by Vara, we look forward to launching our services in the Middle East and Africa region and [assisting] institutions gain exposure to virtual assets, whilst relying [on] secure and regulated virtual asset custody services,” Nicolas Bertrand, chief executive of Komainu, said.

“We continue to be very excited by the development of the virtual asset industry in the UAE and are keen to have a strong positive impact in the region.”

Dubai’s virtual asset law can become a global model for governments and central banks to regulate cryptocurrency and protect investors while also boosting economic growth and innovation, data platform Chainalysis said earlier this year.

The Vara regime is structured to “catalyse collaboration and prioritise public protection, with a mission to provide a progressive regulatory framework” for the virtual assets industry, Mr Al Marri said.

Updated: November 22, 2022, 10:50 AM
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