UAE regulator approves crypto asset trading in free zone

The UAE’s financial regulator has approved a regulatory framework for trading crypto assets in one of Dubai’s free trading zones.

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) and the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) have agreed on rules to support the trading, issuing, listing and offering of crypto assets and associated financial activities that fall within the DWTCA’s jurisdiction.

While the SCA will be responsible for regulatory oversight, the DWTCA will issue the relevant approvals and licences.

“Our agreement with the Securities and Commodities Authority will allow DWTCA to broaden its regulatory, licenses and services capabilities, in addition to extending the centralised supervision of the crypto market to our free zone,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, DWTCA director general.

“With the rise of new technologies such as non-fungible tokens set to play an important role in the future of commerce, and building on the Future Blockchain Summit, DWTCA is also pursuing ways to offer a sustainable home for this ecosystem, in order to stay future ready,” he added.

The move is a further sign of the growing demand for crypto-related assets and the UAE’s ambition to establish itself as a regional hub for the asset class.

In recent months, Dubai has seen Canadian digital asset manager 3iQ list its Bitcoin Fund on Nasdaq Dubai while digital asset hedge fund Nickel Digital Asset Management has announced plans to launch a Mena subsidiary in Dubai.

There could also be competition between Dubai’s various free trade zones to attract crypto and blockchain-related businesses. In May, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) launched the DMCC Crypto Centre, following in the wake of the Dubai Airport Freezone Authority which was granted regulatory approval to trade crypto assets earlier this year.

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