BitOasis working with Dubai's virtual assets regulator after licence suspension

Cryptocurrency platform says it is seeking to 'remediate' all outstanding post-licensing conditions

BitOasis secured a licence to provide broker-dealer services in Dubai from Vara earlier this year. Pawan Singh / The National
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BitOasis, one of the largest cryptocurrency platforms in the Middle East, said it is working with Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority after the regulator suspended its operational licence.

Vara said BitOasis’ minimum viable product operational licence was put on hold as part of its continuing supervisory controls of the virtual assets industry in the emirate.

“BitOasis is under review for not meeting mandated conditions, required to be satisfied within 30-60 day timeframes prior to being permitted to undertake any Vara regulated market activity,” it said.

BitOasis secured a licence to provide broker-dealer services in Dubai from Vara earlier this year.

The platform said it is working closely with the regulator to “remediate all outstanding post-licensing conditions of our operational MVP licence”, as well as working towards a full market product (FMP) licence.

“We remain committed to securing a broker-dealer license, and operating a compliant, regulated platform in and from Dubai under Vara’s supervision,” a company statement said on Tuesday.

An MVP is an early version of a service that can be released to determine market fit and gather feedback. It precedes FMP status, which a company has yet to achieve, according to Vara's website.

The MVP licence allows BitOasis to provide services to qualified retail and institutional investors from its Dubai office.

It also helps 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 in May.

Dubai has been taking steps to regulate the virtual assets sector while promoting its growth and adopted the Virtual Assets Regulation Law in March last year to create an advanced legal framework that protects investors and provides international standards for running the industry.

It also set up Vara to regulate the sector in the emirate, including special development zones and free zones, but excluding Dubai International Financial Centre.

The authority, which will also be responsible for licensing, has legal and financial autonomy over the virtual asset sector.

Vara is “exercising its authority to supervise and monitor compliance, assure fulfilment of prescribed conditions, impose remedial measures, and take necessary enforcement actions, including but not limited to holding BitOasis’ licence status as non-operational”, it said in the market alert on Monday.

“Vara shall continue to monitor the situation for regulatory compliance remediation.”

Founded in 2016, BitOasis serves 15 markets across the Middle East and North Africa region.

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, including Jump Capital, Pantera and Wamda Capital.

The company said Vara’s market action does not affect its ability to continue to provide broker-dealer services to its existing retail users.

“Although we undertake to not on-board any new clients until we have fully complied with Vara requirements,” the company said.

“We knew that taking the lead in the ecosystem will come with its unique challenges, and we are glad to be tackling them in close co-operation with our regulator.”

It added: “Transparency has always been a key value of our business – we will continue to update our community as we address these requirements prior to applying for an FMP license.”

Updated: July 11, 2023, 11:12 AM