BitOasis, a cryptocurrency trading platform in the Middle East and North Africa, has secured a licence to provide broker-dealer services in Dubai from the emirate's Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority.
The minimum viable product licence will allow BitOasis to provide services to qualified retail and institutional investors from its Dubai office, the company said on Monday.
The MVP licence will also help BitOasis to launch strategic partnerships in the UAE, “to provide qualified investors the opportunity to buy, sell and hold virtual assets on the platform”, and launch new virtual asset products with a “continued focus on driving accessibility, consumer protection and utility across the virtual asset ecosystem”, it said.
“Becoming the first virtual asset trading platform in the MVP programme to attain an operating license is an important milestone for us and the emirate of Dubai,” said co-founder and chief executive Ola Doudin.
“We remain committed to operating in accordance with applicable law, regulation and best practices from Dubai and across the region.”
An MVP is an early version of a service that can be released to determine market fit and gather feedback. It precedes full market product (FMP) status, which a company has yet to achieve, according to Vara's website.
Securing an operational licence is the third and final step in Vara's MVP process, following the preparatory and provisional stages.
It grants virtual asset service providers permission to conduct activities in seven categories, according to Vara's website.
While BitOasis has an MVP licence for broker-dealer services, Hong Kong-based Hex Trust, which opened a Dubai office in June 2022, has an MVP operational licence for custody services and management and investment services, says the website.
“The Vara ecosystem aims to strike a balance between value creation, risk mitigation and enhanced investment opportunities with consumer protection at its core,” said Henson Orser, chief executive of Vara.
“One of Vara's founding principles is creating an equal opportunity regime for responsible virtual asset service providers and being able to onboard credible home-grown companies … in addition to leading global platforms.”
Dubai adopted a law to regulate virtual assets to provide investors a safe environment while embracing emerging technologies as interest in them grows.
Vara was established by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in March 2022 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 industry governance to enable responsible business growth in the emirate.
In February, Vara — the first regulator to have a presence in the metaverse — issued regulations to offer certainty and greater clarity on the expected level of operator responsibility, and also mitigate market risks.
BitOasis was founded in 2016 and serves 15 countries across Mena.
Since it began operations, the company has processed more than $5 billion in trading volume and raised more than $35 million in funding from regional and global investors.