Canada’s Aquanow Secures Dubai Crypto License

BySamson Ononeme

Feb 12, 2024 ,
Vancouver-based Aquanow taps Dubai's crypto-friendly regime and D33 district to aid ambitious global expansion push.

Key Insights

  • Canada’s Aquanow secured a crypto license from Dubai regulator VARA to offer expanded services
  • The approval positions Dubai as the centerpiece for Aquanow’s international expansion plans from its Vancouver base
  • Aquanow CEO highlighted Dubai’s bid to be a top global crypto hub as a key factor behind the move

DUBAI (MarketsXplora) – Blockchain company Aquanow said on Monday it notched a cryptocurrencies license in Dubai, lining up wider services once conditions are met in its growth drive beyond home market Canada.

Aquanow, headquartered in Vancouver, scored approval as a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) from regulator VARA as it positions Dubai as a centerpiece for international expansion over time, its chief executive said.

“Dubai’s D33 vision of emerging as a top global financial center and major hub of innovation…was a key factor in making the Emirate the centerpiece in our international growth efforts,” said CEO Phil Sham.

Aquanow has advised institutional clients like top banks on crypto strategies since starting in 2018, though its new VARA permit remains inactive until certain localization and due diligence steps are completed, Sham noted without elaborating.

Once operational, Aquanow can offer broker, lending and investment administration services under Dubai’s bid to balance crypto innovation with consumer protections, part of its agenda to diversify revenues away from hydrocarbons.

The VARA license marks a milestone for Aquanow’s regional plans after working with regulators and the D33 tech district nurturing crypto ventures and distributed ledgers in the Middle East trade and tourism hub.

Aquanow offers fiat on- and off-ramps for crypto trading, non-fungible token platforms, payments processing and tokenization enabling firms to launch digital assets.

Though licencing regimes vary, the Gulf has emerged as a crypto and blockchain hotspot, keen to capture the industry’s rapid growth as global regulators urge vigilance around risks.

Bahrain pioneered regional crypto rules in 2019 and Saudi Arabia has pressed ahead with plans to launch a central bank digital currency as smaller states Muscat and Abu Dhabi also build virtual asset frameworks.

Samson Ononeme

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