VARA’s CEO Predicts Boom in UAE Crypto Market Post FATF Grey List Exit

Matt White, CEO of Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), sees the Financial Action Task Force’s removal of the UAE from the grey list as a positive move, clearing the way for increased crypto-related investments.

After the UAE fulfilled its action plan to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing, the FATF decided to remove the country from the grey list. This indicates significant progress in implementing reforms.

In a podcast with Zawya published Thursday, White mentioned that the crypto market, which experienced a “crypto winter” last year, is now entering a more active phase.

“There is going to be expansion into new initiatives,” he said. “But I think it’s worth highlighting the baseline expectation will be to cement these robust supervision and enforcement frameworks that we’ve built, so that we don’t go backwards from from where we currently are.”

VARA Boss Outlines Vision for Crypto Ecosystem in Dubai

The VARA chief said the regulator wants to establish certain baseline Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) and products necessary for a robust ecosystem in the region.

“What I’m talking about there is the right exchanges, the right brokers, the right custodians, and enabling them to have the right suite of products to serve as a crypto market,” he said.

Moreover, he intends for VARA to collaborate with industry players on targeted proof of concept or pilot projects. For instance, the regulator aims to identify a VASP interested in tokenizing a fund and involve various regulatory bodies to facilitate the process.

Progress in Dubai’s Crypto Regulatory Framework

Additionally, he said certain aspects of the ecosystem are not functioning optimally yet. He cited a gap in education regarding risks associated with virtual assets. To address this, he said he wants to see advancements in helping institutions comprehend these risks better, thereby increasing their confidence in dealing with virtual assets.

Dubai has been actively creating a welcoming environment for crypto companies. All virtual asset service providers must secure a license from VARA before they can offer their services in the UAE.

So far, VARA has issued 20 licenses to regulated virtual asset service providers, with 11 of them already in operation, White said. Additionally, 80 others have received initial approvals, allowing them to begin commercial activities within a free zone or access banking services.


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