Dubai’s VARA Appoints Matthew White as CEO

Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) has announced a change in its leadership. Matthew White has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), taking over from Henson Orser. This transition comes at a pivotal time, as Dubai intensifies its regulatory framework for virtual asset service providers (VASPs).

The leadership change is part of VARA’s strategy as it gears up for “full-scale market operations” in 2023. Matthew White, with over 20 years of global advisory experience, including his role as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), is set to take the helm of VARA​​​​​​. His deep expertise in technology and digital trust positions him well to lead the regulatory body through its next phase of development.

Despite stepping down, Henson Orser will continue his association with VARA in a consulting capacity. Orser, a seasoned financial professional, has been instrumental in establishing a “specialist regulatory regime” for Dubai’s cryptocurrency market, particularly following the challenges faced in the aftermath of the FTX exchange failure​​​​.

This leadership transition aligns with the broader efforts of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to tighten its regulations concerning virtual assets. In a collaborative effort, multiple UAE agencies released comprehensive guidelines for VASPs on November 8, incorporating various penalties for entities operating without appropriate authorization. This move is part of the UAE’s endeavor to be removed from the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force, to which it was added in 2022​​.

As Dubai’s VARA enters a critical phase in its regulatory journey, the appointment of Matthew White as CEO symbolizes a commitment to strengthening oversight and fostering a secure and robust virtual asset market. With the continued support of Henson Orser, VARA is poised to navigate the evolving landscape of cryptocurrency regulation effectively.


Tagged : / / / / / / / / /

Ex-FTX Execs Launch New Crypto Exchange Backpack

Nearly a year after the dramatic collapse of FTX, several former executives of the defunct cryptocurrency exchange have banded together to launch a new venture in the digital currency space. This new endeavor, named Backpack Exchange, is set to reshape the crypto landscape with a focus on enhanced security and regulatory compliance.

Genesis of Backpack Exchange

Leadership and Vision: The project is spearheaded by Can Sun, previously a lawyer at FTX, with significant support from Armani Ferrante, a former FTX employee who now serves as CEO of Trek Labs, the holding company based in the British Virgin Islands. Trek Labs, a Dubai-based startup, has been authorized to offer cryptocurrency services in the region. Claire Zhang, Sun’s former legal deputy at FTX and Ferrante’s spouse, also plays a crucial role in the team, albeit with plans to step down post-investment round.

Mission and Technology: With lessons learned from FTX’s downfall, Backpack Exchange focuses on ensuring the security of customer funds, a critical aspect FTX failed at. The exchange incorporates a self-custody solution utilizing a multiparty computation (MPC) technique, designed for enhanced security in fund transactions.

Strategic Location and Regulatory Compliance

Dubai as a Crypto Hub: The choice of Dubai as the base for Backpack Exchange is strategic. Dubai’s progressive stance towards virtual assets and the regulatory framework established by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) offers a conducive environment for crypto ventures. Backpack has obtained the Dubai Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license, enabling it to operate within one of the world’s emerging financial centers.

Product Offerings and Launch Timeline: Backpack Exchange plans to commence operations with spot trading, featuring state-of-the-art features like zero-knowledge proof of reserves and low-latency order execution. Exclusive early access is set for November 2023 for existing Backpack and MadLads community members, followed by a broader public launch in early 2024.

The Road Ahead: Transparency and Market Integrity

Commitment to Transparency: In a bid to instill greater trust and compliance in the crypto industry, Backpack Exchange adheres to VARA’s stringent regulations. This commitment is seen as a major step towards the institutionalization of cryptocurrency trading in Dubai, enhancing investor protection and maintaining market integrity.

Dubai’s Regulatory Framework: The decision of Dubai to regulate and license exchanges like Backpack reflects a positive approach towards embracing blockchain technology, with a focus on creating a regulated yet thriving environment for crypto-assets.

Image source: Shutterstock


Tagged : / / / / / / / / / /

Binance Secures First Operational MVP License from Dubai’s VARA

Binance has achieved a milestone by becoming the first crypto exchange to receive an Operational MVP License from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA). This license enables Binance to offer regulated virtual asset exchange services in Dubai, affirming its commitment to compliance and collaboration with local regulators.

The Operational MVP License was granted to Binance’s Dubai subsidiary, Binance FZE, and allows the exchange to offer services approved by VARA, including exchange and broker-dealer services. These services are initially available to institutional and qualified retail investors in Dubai.

The issuance of this license follows Binance’s successful attainment of a provisional MVP license in March 2022 and a preparatory MVP license in September 2022. VARA has now permitted Binance to operate two licensed activities: virtual asset exchange services and virtual asset broker-dealer services.

The progression from the Provisional License to an Operational MVP License means eligible users in Dubai can now access authorized services, including the ability to safely convert virtual assets to fiat, under VARA-designated standards compliant with the Financial Action Task Force.

Richard Teng, Head of Regional Markets at Binance, commented, “We are honored to be the first exchange to be granted an operational Minimum Viable Product License by VARA — a result of over a year of due diligence, collaboration, and consistent demonstration of responsible intent.”

The UAE’s embrace of blockchain technology has created a thriving industry with security and innovation at its core. Binance’s achievement in securing this license sets a precedent for positive collaboration in the rapidly-evolving financial technology landscape.

Alexander Chehade, Binance Dubai’s General Manager, noted, “With this operational MVP license, all users onboarded through this platform can expect access to a trusted and regulated service that prioritizes security alongside compliance with highly specialized, tier-one virtual asset regulations under VARA.”

While Binance has achieved success in Dubai, it has faced regulatory challenges in other countries. Binance withdrew its license application in Germany after BaFin denied the application. The exchange has also withdrawn license applications in Austria, the Netherlands, and Cyprus.

Image source: Shutterstock


Tagged : / / / / /

Dubai regulator grants MVP preliminary license

Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority has granted a preliminary license for a minimum viable product (MVP), according to (VARA).

Following getting preliminary approval from the Dubai administration in 2022, the exchange was issued this license for preparatory activity. During the preparatory phase, the MVP license enables the exchange to comply with the VARA operational standards. The rules specify that no company may engage in or seem to engage in any virtual asset activity in Dubai via advertising and promotions unless authorized and controlled by VARA.

The VARA of Dubai was founded in March 2022 and is responsible for regulating, monitoring, and managing virtual assets and virtual asset activity in all zones of the Emirate of Dubai, except the Dubai International Financial Centre.

During the preparatory phase of the VARA regime, the MVP phase enables approved licensees to satisfy all prerequisites for conducting MVP market operations. When the license is activated, will be allowed to provide spot and derivatives products for virtual assets. Institutional investors may be offered exchange services, brokerage, margin or leverage trading, and over-the-counter products focusing on settlements.

According to the statement, was granted the MVP provisional license after a comprehensive review of the exchange. Examined were key personnel, governance processes, anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing capabilities, Know Your Customer rules and procedures, ultimate beneficial owner policies and procedures, compliance practices, and cross-border security measures.

According to VARA’s chief executive officer, Henson Orser, VARA’s regulatory policy will be helpful in creating a robust and resilient ecosystem that will result in a more secure global market for virtual assets. He believed that incorporating companies such as would assist the organization in achieving its objective of developing a contemporary, forward-thinking regulatory framework.

Recently, has grown its global reach. The majority of significant markets, including as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and others, have authorized and licensed the exchange. It also obtained a payment institution license in Brazil.

Binance got an MVP license in the past after modifying its operational procedures and securing other regulatory permits.


Tagged : / / / /

Is Dubai the New Rallying Point for Crypto Exchanges?

Many jurisdictions around the world nowadays are interacting with the digital currency ecosystem in different ways. Dubai is one of the most active influencers among gulf nations.


While many state actors may see it as a threat, quite a lot more others are embracing the opportunities it brings.

Dubai comes off as one of the latter with the slew of licenses being granted to cryptocurrency exchanges today. As reported by Blockchain.News, OKX, one of the leading crypto exchanges in the digital currency ecosystem is one of the latest in the industry that has just been given the green light to operate in Dubai. 

As announced by the crypto trading platform, the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) granted it a provisional virtual assets (VA) license, an allowance that will let it offer targeted crypto products to qualifying investors.

While the move complements the exchange’s efforts to go global, underscoring among many things its compliance capabilities, it speaks much more of the benevolence and the forward-thinking position of VARA. Riding on the allowance of the new license, the trading platform plans to establish a new regional office in Dubai, as it seeks to explore a more holistic engagement in the region.

“The MENA region is one of the fastest growing markets for our industry, and we are very excited to be at the heart of this thriving ecosystem,” said Lennix Lai, General Manager, OKX Dubai, “OKX looks forward to contributing meaningfully to the free exchange of ideas that is going to be so important to the development of this space while innovating for the future in a regulated framework.”

Joint Promotion of the Dubai Digital Assets Landscape

Besides OKX, the duo of Binance and Huobi have also tapped related licenses to operate in Dubai. The implication of this is not just to the benefit of the exchanges, the masses will also have a unique diversity in their payment options, while the government will be able to generate revenue in the form of taxes.

On the part of OKX, the exchange said it will be committing to promote the crypto ecosystem in Dubai in alliance with VARA. The exchange added it will seek to make meaningful contributions by facilitating research and knowledge sharing with the goal of making Dubai a leading hub for the global virtual assets industry.

Dubai, besides its role as one of the world’s most visited tourist locations, is also aiming to become the financial epicentre of the Middle East, then the world. While the growth of digital assets in the region can be attributed to the bullish nature of VARA, chances are that Dubai will eventually become the most sought-after rallying point for crypto exchanges in the near term.

Image source: Shutterstock


Tagged : / / / /
Bitcoin (BTC) $ 38,715.37 1.79%
Ethereum (ETH) $ 2,091.05 0.04%
Litecoin (LTC) $ 71.70 2.15%
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $ 225.59 1.19%