Law no. (4) of 2022, also known as the Virtual Assets Regulation Law, is a new piece of legislation in the Emirate of Dubai. It is the first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It is expected to provide a framework for the growth and development of the virtual asset industry.
The law defines virtual assets as any digital representation of value that can be traded or transferred through electronic means, including but not limited to cryptocurrencies, digital tokens, and virtual financial assets. It covers various activities related to virtual assets, such as trading, custody, issuance, and transfer. The law also sets out the regulatory framework for initial coin offerings (ICOs) and outlines the requirements for companies looking to launch ICOs in Dubai.
One of the law's key objectives is to protect investors' interests in virtual assets.
In terms of investor protection, the law requires the Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) to maintain adequate capital levels, implement robust security measures, and conduct regular audits. The law also requires VASPs to implement Anti-Money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) measures to prevent illegal activities such as fraud and terrorist financing.
The Virtual Assets Regulation Law also clarifies the tax treatment of virtual assets. The law states that virtual assets will be treated as property for tax purposes and that transactions involving virtual assets will be subject to the relevant taxes and fees. This will provide much-needed clarity for investors and businesses operating in the virtual asset market and help prevent tax avoidance and fraud.
Another critical aspect of the law is the requirement for VASPs to comply with data protection regulations. The law requires VASPs to implement appropriate measures to protect customer information's privacy and confidentiality and ensure the security of their systems and data. This will provide an extra layer of customer protection and help prevent data breaches and cyber-attacks.
The Virtual Assets Regulation Law is expected to positively impact the growth and development of the virtual asset market in Dubai. Introducing a regulatory framework will provide certainty and stability for businesses and investors operating in the market, which will help attract more investment and spur innovation. The regulation will also help to promote the broader adoption of virtual assets in the region, as investors and businesses will have more confidence in the security and stability of the market.
Further, the VARA has issued several rulebooks to govern the virtual asset industry in Dubai. These rulebooks cover various topics, including the licensing of virtual asset companies, the conduct of virtual asset transactions, and the security of virtual assets.
VASPS must comply with every clause in the following rulebooks, as amended from time to time:
- Company Rulebook;
- Compliance and Risk Management Rulebook;
- Technology and Information Rulebook; and
- Market Conduct Rulebook.
Along with the Rulebooks above, VASPs must also comply at all times with the following Rulebooks, which correspond to the VA Activities it is licensed to perform:
- Advisory Services Rulebook;
- Broker-Dealer Services Rulebook;
- Custody Services Rulebook;
- Exchange Services Rulebook;
- Lending and Borrowing Services Rulebook;
- Payments and Remittances Services Rulebook; and
- VA Management and Investment Services Rulebook.
In addition to these rulebooks, the VARA has also issued guidelines on various topics, including the reporting of virtual asset transactions, the management of virtual asset wallets, and the security of virtual assets. The VARA’s guidelines are designed to provide additional guidance and clarification on implementing the regulations.
The virtual asset industry has well received the VARA’s regulations in Dubai. Many companies have welcomed the clarity and certainty provided by the rules and have praised the VARA for its efforts to promote innovation and growth in the virtual asset sector.
The VARA’s regulations have also been recognized internationally as some of the most progressive and innovative in the world. Industry experts have praised the VARA’s commitment to balancing consumer protection with innovation, and the regulations have been recognized as a model for other countries to follow.
In conclusion, the Virtual Assets Regulation Law is a significant step forward for the virtual asset industry in Dubai and the wider MENA region. The regulation will provide a framework for the growth and development of the market while protecting the interests of investors and businesses. Furthermore, it is expected to promote transparency and fairness and provide a stable and secure environment for the growth of Dubai is well-positioned to become a leading hub for virtual assets in the Middle East.