Abu Dhabi, a rapidly emerging hub for digital assets, has recently witnessed another significant development. Laser Digital, the digital assets subsidiary of the renowned Japanese bank, Nomura, has been granted in-principal approval by the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). This move signifies the growing acceptance and integration of digital asset firms not only in Abu Dhabi but also across the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Laser Digital’s foray into the Middle East
The ADGM’s communication on September 26th revealed that Laser Digital has been given in-principal approval to offer broker-dealer services. This also encompasses asset and fund management services for both digital and conventional assets. However, to obtain the full Financial Services Permission, Laser Digital must meet certain conditions outlined in the current approval. The specifics of these conditions remain undisclosed in the communication.
Jez Mohideen, the CEO of Laser Digital, expressed his enthusiasm about this development. He stated, “Their comprehensive and clear regulatory framework is creating a global hub for digital assets that we are delighted to be joining.” This sentiment reflects the broader industry’s appreciation for ADGM’s efforts in establishing a robust and transparent regulatory environment for digital assets.
For those unfamiliar, the ADGM is an international financial free zone located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Spanning nearly 15 square kilometers across two islands, the ADGM comprises a registration authority, a regulatory authority, and a court that implements common law.
Abu Dhabi: A growing epicenter for digital asset firms
The ADGM’s decision to grant Laser Digital in-principal approval is not an isolated event. In fact, it follows a series of approvals and permissions granted to various digital asset firms over the past year. In April 2022, Binance, one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges, received in-principal approval to operate within the ADGM. By November, they had secured the Financial Services Permission. Similarly, Kraken, another global crypto exchange, was granted permission to operate in the ADGM in 2022.
Furthermore, this year witnessed the ADGM licensing two more virtual asset firms: the UAE-based M2 and the Bahrain-based Rain. These approvals underscore the ADGM’s commitment to fostering a thriving ecosystem for digital assets in the region.
Another noteworthy development in the UAE’s digital asset landscape is the establishment of the RAK Digital Assets Oasis (RAK DAO) by the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. This initiative aims to create a dedicated free zone for digital and virtual asset companies, further solidifying the UAE’s position as a global leader in the digital asset domain.
Laser Digital’s Expanding Footprint
The recent in-principal approval in Abu Dhabi is just one of the many milestones for Laser Digital. A little over a month ago, the firm secured an operating license from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA). This was closely followed by the launch of their Bitcoin Adoption Fund in August. Established in September 2022, Laser Digital’s rapid expansion and achievements in such a short span are truly commendable.
In addition to its independent ventures, Nomura is also a key player in the Komainu joint venture. This collaboration involves cryptocurrency exchanges CoinShares and Ledger. Interestingly, Komainu also received an operating license from Dubai’s VARA in August, joining a growing list of crypto exchanges making their mark in the region.
The in-principal approval of Laser Digital by the ADGM is a testament to Abu Dhabi’s and the broader UAE’s vision of becoming a global hub for digital assets. With a clear and comprehensive regulatory framework, the region is poised to attract more digital asset firms in the coming years. As for Laser Digital, its journey in the Middle East has only just begun, and the industry eagerly awaits its next move.