UAE Updates Digital Asset Rules As Per FATF Guidelines


The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in the UAE recently announced an update to its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and sanctions rules, specifically tailored for digital assets. This move aligns with the evolving financial landscape and implements nuanced changes under the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Travel Rule.

The updated AML Rulebook now explicitly enforces the FATF’s Travel Rule on digital assets. This regulation mandates Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) to share specific customer information during cryptocurrency transactions, aiming to enhance transparency and traceability in these dealings. The objective is to counter the exploitation of virtual asset anonymity for illicit activities.

These revisions signify a substantial shift in the regulatory framework, impacting firms under the AML Rulebook. The goal is to address evolving challenges and fortify regulations governing the digital asset space.

Ali Jamal, CEO of Cryptos Consultancy, hailed these changes for enhancing clarity and ensuring alignment with the UAE’s broader regulatory framework to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. He emphasized the significance of these updates for authorized firms and businesses in finance, recognizing their broad impact on the financial ecosystem.

Jamal commended FSRA’s proactive approach, highlighting their continuous efforts to fortify the regulatory landscape. This dedication aligns with international standards, emphasizing FSRA’s commitment to fostering a secure and compliant financial ecosystem in the UAE.

The UAE has strategically diversified its focus from oil reserves to technology and finance in recent years. Recognizing the potential of digital assets, the government has actively established a robust and adaptable regulatory environment.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai, in particular, have intensified regulatory efforts to attract global digital asset businesses, drawing substantial talent and investment. This strategic approach has positioned the UAE as a dynamic hub for digital asset activities, earning positive exposure globally.

A Statista report projects the UAE crypto market to grow annually at 10.53% between 2023 and 2028, with an estimated revenue of US$395.8 million by 2028. The report anticipates 3.15 million crypto users in the Emirates by 2028, with broader market penetration rising from 23.20% in 2023 to 29.85% by 2028.

Further validating this trend, a December 19 report by PwC ranks the UAE among the leading countries in embracing cryptocurrency regulations, alongside the United States and the United Kingdom. PwC’s data highlights the UAE government’s proactive implementation of comprehensive crypto regulatory frameworks, anti-money laundering measures, and the FATF Travel Rule.

This concerted effort underscores the UAE’s commitment to fostering a progressive and secure crypto sector, attracting global attention and positioning the region as a prominent player in the evolving landscape of digital assets.