The federal securities regulator in the United Arab Emirates will start accepting applications from companies looking to provide crypto services in the country, according to a Monday announcement.

All virtual-asset service providers in the country – except for companies that are already licensed in the UAE’s financial-free zones – must apply for approval with the Securities and Commodities Authority. The licensing regime was approved by the SCA on Monday following a decision by the UAE Council of Ministers last year to regulate the crypto sector. The SCA took on the role of regulating the sector earlier this year.

Some of the seven emirates, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, already have licensing frameworks for crypto firms in force, with the local industry embracing Dubai’s recently unveiled regime.

Companies looking to operate in the Emirate of Dubai must obtain a license from its Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority in addition to SCA approval, according to the announcement.

Firms seeking authorization will have to demonstrate “operational efficiency and flexibility,” and meet certain operational standards.

Amendments have been made to the virtual-asset rule book from 2022, according to the announcement. Financial activities like brokerage and custody of virtual assets, as well as a new category of virtual-asset service provider, have been added to the legislation.

“A person wishing to engage in virtual-asset activities shall have headquarters in the State to conduct his business, according to one of the legal forms approved by the local authorities concerned with commercial licenses,” the regulation dictates.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.