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Laser Digital of Nomura is given preliminary approval to operate in Abu Dhabi.

A rapidly expanding cohort of digital asset firms has made its foray into Abu Dhabi and the broader United Arab Emirates, with a Japanese bank joining their ranks. Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has granted preliminary approval to Laser Digital, the digital assets subsidiary of Japan’s Nomura Bank, enabling them to offer broker-dealer services and asset/fund management services encompassing both digital and traditional assets. This significant development was officially communicated by ADGM on September 26.

It is noteworthy that Laser Digital has the potential to obtain full Financial Services Permission, contingent upon the fulfillment of stipulated conditions within the current approval. Regrettably, the specifics of these conditions were not divulged in the communication. In response to this milestone, Laser Digital’s CEO, Jez Mohideen, conveyed in the communication, “Their comprehensive and transparent regulatory framework is establishing a global nucleus for digital assets—a prospect that we are genuinely thrilled to be part of.”

ADGM, situated within Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is an international financial free zone spanning nearly 15 square kilometers across two islands. It comprises a registration authority, regulatory body, and a court system rooted in common law.

Notably, Binance secured preliminary approval for its operations within ADGM in April 2022, subsequently obtaining Financial Services Permission in November of the same year. Kraken also received approval to operate within the ADGM in 2022. In the current year, ADGM has also issued licenses to two smaller virtual asset firms—M2, headquartered in the UAE, and Rain, based in Bahrain.

Additionally, another emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, established a dedicated free zone catering to digital and virtual asset enterprises earlier in the year, known as RAK Digital Assets Oasis (RAK DAO).

The preliminary approval in Abu Dhabi follows closely on the heels of Laser Digital’s acquisition of an operating license from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) just over a month ago. Notably, Laser Digital also initiated the launch of a Bitcoin Adoption Fund in August, marking its inception in September 2022.

Nomura is also a pivotal participant in the Komainu joint venture, collaborating with cryptocurrency exchanges CoinShares and Ledger. Komainu, too, obtained an operating license from Dubai’s VARA in August, solidifying its presence alongside several other crypto exchanges in the region.

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