Business

Dennis Wafula

UAE may soon allow companies to raise funds via ICOs

A new set of rules will soon allow domestic companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to raise funds via initial coin offerings (ICOs).

On Monday, Reuters quoted Obaid Saif al-Zaabi, head of the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA), saying that the board “has approved considering ICOs as securities.” If all goes to plan, a legal framework regulating ICO activities in UAE will be introduced in 2019.

Under the proposed legal framework, companies in the country will be allowed to use ICOs as an alternative to traditional fundraising methods. Currently, firms are using initial public offering (IPOs), which involve selling shares in the company to the public.

The first draft of these new rules is already being set up. According to al-Zaabi, the security watchdog is also working with stock trading platforms in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to prepare them for the new digital transactions.

Lack of IPO activities in the past years has forced authorities in UAE to allow companies to raise their funds using ICOs. Low oil prices and unimpressive equities markets have been cited as the cause of the lack of IPO activities in UAE and its surrounding countries. In addition to new ICOs laws, the state is also planning to create rules that will help raise IPOs. The new IPO laws will encourage family owners to sell up to a 100% share of their firms.

If and when the new ICO regulations come into law, UAE will be among the few countries in the world to have brought in the regulatory framework for the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector. It joins Malta, which recently passed several bills providing a legal basis for blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs.

Other countries are also hard at work in regulating ICO activities. In September, the European Parliament agreed to draft a set of regulations that would make ICOs more accessible within the European Union (EU).

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