Crypto Exchange Okx Gets MVP Preparatory License From Dubai Regulator

Crypto exchange platform Okx Global has been granted the minimal viable product (MVP) preparatory license by the Dubai regulator, the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA). The latest VARA license has been granted almost a year after Okx received the “provisional virtual assets license.”

Crypto Exchange to Increase Dubai Office Staff

The Dubai digital assets regulator, the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), has granted the minimal viable product (MVP) preparatory license to crypto exchange Okx, a statement released by the firm has said. According to the statement, the new license enables “approved licensees to fulfil all pre-conditions required to undertake MVP operations within the VARA regime.”

Once the license enabling the Web3 firm to be operational is obtained, the crypto exchange’s Middle East division “will be able to extend its approved suite of duly regulated virtual assets activities” to institutional and qualified retail customers. To help the crypto firm prepare for this outcome, Okx revealed in the statement that it plans to increase the Dubai staff to 30.

In addition, the crypto firm said it intends to extend its “nine-figure brand partnerships” to the Middle East country through “customer and fan-focused activations and activities.” Commenting on VARA’s decision to grant Okx the MVP preparatory license, Chief Commercial Officer Lennix Lai said the regulator’s decision shows it has “succeeded in creating a unique environment where VASPs can thrive.”

Okx Global Head of Government Relations Tim Byun said the granting of the MVP license proves that Dubai and the regulator have become world leaders when it comes to regulating or crafting the framework that governs digital assets. Byun added:

“In today’s uncertain market environment, it’s of the utmost importance for VASPs [virtual assets service providers] to be highly secure, transparent, compliant and backed by strong, clear regulation. Under VARA’s comprehensive framework, all operators must meet high standards of compliance, risk management, security and consumer protection, benchmarked against well-known existing regulatory principles for traditional financial services.”

The latest VARA license is an upgrade from the “provisional virtual assets license” which Okx received in the second half of 2022. As reported by News, the license enabled the crypto exchange to “extend certain exchange products and services to pre-qualified investors and financial service providers.” According to VARA, MVP licensees can only offer their services to mass retail consumers “until the stage gate (4) FMP [full market product] licence approval has been secured.”

Meanwhile, Byun told News that the amount of time and effort invested by the UAE and Dubai’s VARA in building regulations from the ground up may be one of the reasons the region is now preferred by crypto firms. To back this assertion, Byun cites the over 300 pages of new regulations governing virtual asset activities that were unveiled by VARA on Feb. 7, 2023.

When asked if the U.S. regulators’ ongoing crackdown against the crypto industry is likely to influence VARA’s approach in the future, Byun said this is unlikely to happen. He pointed to Dubai’s use of one regulator and the transparent requirements.

“Dubai has a clear, singular regulator with transparent requirements and controls for participants to seek licenses according to their regulated activities. Regulation by enforcement is not a long-term answer to support an emerging technology; establishing timely, robust and clear regulatory frameworks is the key to growing the ecosystem in a safe and sound manner,” Byun said.

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