The largest free economic zone in the UAE, with zero percent personal and corporate income tax, has started issuing licenses to firms trading cryptocurrencies. The first license has been issued to a gold trader that has recently started offering cryptocurrency services.
The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) is a government entity established in 2002 to enhance commodity trade flows through Dubai. DMCC Free Zone is the largest and fastest growing free economic zone in the UAE.
“We perform a range of roles which continue to position Dubai as the preferred destination for global commodities trade and DMCC as the world’s No.1 Free Zone,” offering zero percent personal and corporate income tax, the center’s website states. Today, more than 14,100 multinational corporations and startups call DMCC home, with almost 90,000 people living and working there.
The Centre has started issuing licenses to allow firms trading in cryptocurrencies to operate from its free zone, Thomson Reuters Zawya reported on Monday.
DMCC’s executive director for commodities, Sanjeev Dutta, told the publication that the Centre is “beginning to facilitate” a market in cryptocurrencies which, he acknowledged, is unregulated. Citing that firms looking to set up in the zone would be considered on a “case-by-case” basis, he elaborated:
To me, what is important is the fact that you are still evaluating it as part of your innovation strategy. You are not saying ‘no’ to something. You are not saying ‘yes’ either, but you are exploring, so you are clearly ahead of the others when the time to make a decision comes.
DMCC is a member of the Global Blockchain Council, which began as a Dubai Smart City project and has 46 member organizations globally today. The Centre’s director of innovation hub, Franco Bosoni, said that a global consensus is emerging which favors classifying cryptocurrencies as commodities, the news outlet detailed and quoted him explaining:
DMCC’s view is that these [cryptocurrencies] meet the test of a commodity. They’re priced based on supply and demand, produced and sold globally at a uniform quality and (are) indistinguishable between products.
Wai Lum Kwok, head of capital markets for Abu Dhabi Global Markets Regulatory Authority, told the publication on Sunday that the regulator is “reviewing and considering the development of a robust, risk-appropriate regulatory framework” for crypto exchanges and intermediaries. Emphasizing that no timeframe has been set, he added:
As we develop our framework, we will also want to check in and have the conversations with, for example, US regulators, Japanese regulators and so on and so forth, so that there is some alignment of approach to avoid any regulatory arbitrage.
The first license for the Free Zone reportedly went to Regal Assets, a gold trader and storage provider with offices in the US, Canada, and the UAE. The company added cryptocurrencies to its product line at the end of last year, offering brokerage services and an insured, high-security cold storage service for bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, ethereum classic, ripple, and dash.
According to Bloomberg, “Dubai gold trader Regal RA DMCC is the first company in the Middle East to get a license to trade cryptocurrencies.” The news outlet quoted DMCC acknowledging in a statement, “The company will offer storage of bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies in a vault located in DMCC headquarters in Almas Tower in Dubai.”
DMCC Executive Chairman Ahmed Bin Sulayem was quoted by the publication, “At the heart of DMCC’s long-term strategic growth plan is the use of technology and innovation to disrupt and connect new markets, industries and customers,” adding that “the announcement today embodies this approach.”