Komainu becomes latest crypto firm to gain full license in Dubai

Komainu has received approval from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) to provide its custody services to clients in Dubai, the company told Blockworks Tuesday.

The crypto custodian is among the first to receive a full Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) in a region that various companies in the segment have sought to set up outposts. Crypto firms’ interest in Dubai accelerated after the emirate established VARA in March 2022.  

“VARA has created a robust regulatory framework allowing firms like ourselves to innovate, whilst operating safely and exploring the future potential of digital assets, which includes tokenization and DeFi services,” Komainu’s strategy lead Sebastian Widmann told Blockworks in an email. 

Read more: Dubai free zone now home to more than 500 crypto startups

VARA has a four-stage licensing process: a provisional permit, preparatory and operating minimal viable product (MVP) licenses and a so-called full market product (FMP) license. 

Reaching this final step in VARA’s licensing process allows the company to provide institutional staking and collateral management in the region via its Komainu Connect platform, the company noted. It can also offer custody and custodial staking.

Komainu — started in 2018 as a joint venture between Japan-based financial giant Nomura, blockchain company Ledger and crypto investment firm CoinShares — services institutional clients, such as asset managers, banks, liquidity providers and exchanges.

It had gained preliminary approval to operate in Dubai in July 2022. Komainu then received its MVP license from the Dubai regulator in November.

“We see tremendous growth potential in the [Gulf Cooperation Council countries] and expect to increase our headcount in the region to meet growing client demand,” Widmann said. 

A spokesperson noted that Komainu currently has five employees in Dubai under Widmann’s leadership and plans to double that number by the end of the year.

The company’s license comes a few weeks after Laser Digital, the crypto unit of Nomura, obtained a full license from VARA. Crypto exchange Binance received an operational MVP license last month — bringing the company one step away from offering a broader range of authorized services in the region.

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