UAE Seeks to Introduce ICO Regulations in 2019, Takes the Lead in MENA

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) — the country’s markets regulator — is all set to introduce Initial Coin Offering (ICO) regulations in the first half of 2019. This will make UAE an attractive destination for new projects willing to raise capital through token sales. In fact, local news reports suggest that the SCA will work with Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and Dubai Financial Market to develop a platform for trading of these tokens.

The regulator has also signed agreements with law firms to come up with a ‘regulatory sandbox’ — a framework for development of the fintech industry in the country. These legal requirements are expected to be ready within the next six months. The SCA also stressed that they are open to registration and licensing for projects looking to issue tokens.

UAE to Take the Lead in MENA

UAE has been at the forefront of cryptocurrency regulations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and is all set to accelerate blockchain adoption in the country. In addition to the proposed ICO regulations, the Central Bank of UAE has announced plans of launching a digital currency in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority for cross-border transactions. UAE has also launched a comprehensive Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021 which comes with a mission to make 50% of the government transactions with blockchain technology by 2021.

Along with UAE, Israel stands out with its approach towards cryptocurrency regulations in MENA. The country has become a hotbed for blockchain and crypto startups, and even sought public input to define a cryptocurrency regulatory framework. Israeli regulators have shown that they are willing to engage in discussions and understand the nascent asset class before regulating it.

The Crypto Arms Race

It looks like countries are racing to become token powerhouses within their region, and indeed the world. Forward-looking countries have been aggressively devising regulations to ensure that the nascent industry gets a chance in their jurisdiction. We touched on the progressive cryptocurrency regulatory approach taken by Japan and Thailand in earlier posts. The rise in crypto-friendly regulatory regimes should come as good news for token issuers who have more jurisdictions to choose as launchpads for their ICOs and STOs in 2019.

The winners in this crypto arms race are expected to drive significant economic benefits to their country.

As we highlighted in our ICO trends for 2019, we feel that regulations will be a key theme this year and we are already seeing signs of progress within the first couple of weeks.


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  • VKontakte is a full-service solutions provider for all the things needed to complete a successful ICO. Our comprehensive solutions are designed for companies looking to tap into the immense potential of blockchain and launch their ICO in the most efficient manner possible. Our team comprises of seasoned experts who have a wealth of experience in advising ICOs and is complemented by our cutting-edge technology infrastructure. We are dedicated to understanding their clients’ needs who may come from a diverse range of industries. We are also the first sponsor firm for the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX) that aims to be a world-leading, institutional-grade token sale platform and cryptocurrency exchange.

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