OKX Obtains VASP License from Dubai’s VARA

In a significant development for the cryptocurrency industry, OKX Middle East Fintech FZE, a subsidiary of the prominent cryptocurrency exchange OKX, has been granted a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license by Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA). This milestone marks a pivotal moment for OKX as it seeks to expand its services in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

What is VASP License?

A Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license is a legal authorization granted by a regulatory authority to a business that provides services related to virtual assets, such as cryptocurrencies. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) defines a VASP as a business that conducts one or more of the following actions on behalf of its clients: exchange between virtual assets and fiat currencies, exchange between one or more forms of virtual assets, and transfer of virtual assets.

The VASP license ensures that the provider operates in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, including anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) measures. The specific requirements for a VASP license vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally involve strict compliance with AML and CTF regulations. VASPs are typically required to implement robust Know Your Customer (KYC) and transaction monitoring systems, conduct regular audits, and maintain detailed records of transactions.

License Acquisition and Implications

The VASP license, while currently non-operational, is contingent upon OKX Middle East fulfilling specific conditions and localization requirements set by VARA. Once these prerequisites are met and operational approval is granted, OKX Middle East will be authorized to offer a suite of regulated virtual asset exchange services. These services include spot and fiat trading, AED deposits and withdrawals, and spot trading pairs, catering to both institutional and qualified retail customers.

Tim Byun, OKX Global Head of Government Relations, emphasized the importance of this license, stating that it represents a transition from a trust-based system to one that is trustless, empowering users to take control of their financial future. Byun also highlighted Dubai’s significance as a market for OKX and expressed enthusiasm for contributing to the development of the region’s crypto and Web3 ecosystem.

Consumer Protection and Regulatory Compliance

OKX has expressed a strong commitment to upholding investor and market safeguard principles. By operating under the supervision of VARA in Dubai, OKX aims to provide its users with enhanced levels of consumer protection, which is increasingly important in an era where trust and security are paramount.

Rifad Mahasneh, OKX MENA’s general manager, praised VARA’s efficient license application process and the regulator’s effectiveness in overseeing the local virtual assets sector. The collaboration between OKX and VARA is seen as a testament to the importance of well-regulated virtual asset services.

OKX’s Global Expansion

The acquisition of the VASP license in Dubai is part of OKX’s broader strategy to expand its global footprint. The exchange is also nearing the final stages of obtaining a VASP license in Hong Kong, with approval expected by March 2024. This expansion aligns with Hong Kong’s pro-crypto stance and careful regulation of the industry.


The granting of the VASP license to OKX Middle East by VARA is a significant step forward for the cryptocurrency exchange and the broader digital asset industry in the MENA region. It underscores Dubai’s forward-thinking approach to virtual assets and Web3 technology and sets the stage for OKX to offer regulated services that prioritize consumer protection and trust. The crypto community eagerly awaits the operational commencement of OKX’s services in Dubai, which promises to enhance the region’s flourishing virtual asset ecosystem.

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