How do we ensure digital assets remain legally compliant?

Expert speaks on the various issues investors need to keep in mind


Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

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Published: Sat 20 May 2023, 11:00 AM

The usage of cryptocurrencies is on the rise, and eventually, a considerable number of individuals and businesses will possess digital assets. However, similar to traditional finance, those holding digital assets will be responsible for their assets’ legitimacy. Since there are no banks or intermediaries involved, it is their responsibility to verify the origin of the assets.

Gilson Ribeiro Da Costa, CEO of VAF Compliance, spoke to Khaleej Times about the challenges ahead. Excerpts:

How do you foresee the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies evolving in the next three years?

The regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies is expected to continue evolving in the next three years. Anticipated developments include increased regulation to address concerns such as consumer protection, money laundering, and tax evasion. Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) may also influence regulations.

International cooperation among regulatory bodies is likely to establish consistent standards. Investor protection measures and clearer taxation frameworks for cryptocurrencies are expected to be implemented. For this reason, it’s important to note that regulations will vary across jurisdictions, and staying informed through reputable sources is advised.

Do you believe that the UAE is becoming a regulatory sandbox for the crypto industry?

Yes, I believe that the UAE is becoming a regulatory sandbox for the crypto industry. In recent years, the UAE has taken several steps to regulate the industry, while also providing a supportive environment for innovation. For example, in 2020, the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) issued a set of regulations governing the issuance, offering, and trading of crypto assets. In 2022, the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) was established to regulate the crypto industry in Dubai. VARA has been praised for its progressive approach to regulation, which is designed to foster innovation while also protecting investors.

The regulatory approach of the UAE holds strong appeal for cryptocurrency companies due to several compelling reasons. Firstly, the UAE boasts a stable political and economic environment, providing a foundation of confidence and reliability. Secondly, the country possesses a well-established and robust financial infrastructure, supporting the smooth operation of crypto-related activities. Thirdly, the UAE benefits from a skilled and competent workforce, offering expertise and talent in the cryptocurrency field. Lastly, the UAE serves as a prominent global hub for trade and investment, further enhancing its attractiveness to crypto businesses.

Consequently, one can say that it is rapidly emerging as a significant centre for the crypto industry. In 2022, the Crypto Compare Global Crypto Adoption Index ranked the UAE as the third most crypto-friendly country worldwide. This recognition underscores the UAE’s growing prominence in the sector.

Furthermore, the UAE’s regulatory sandbox approach, which encourages innovation and experimentation within a controlled environment, is expected to continue attracting crypto companies and investors. With its advantageous position, the UAE is poised to establish itself as a leading global hub for the crypto industry.

What is VAF compliance and what are the services that it provides?

VAF Compliance is a leading provider of regulatory compliance solutions for the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. We help businesses and individuals, ensure compliance, and mitigate risks. We offer a comprehensive range of services to assist our clients in maintaining compliance with regulations and standards. Our services encompass compliance consulting, outsourced compliance officers, transaction monitoring, risk assessment, anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF), know your customer/customer due diligence (KYC/CDD), smart contract audit, blockchain investigations, and regulatory reporting. With our expertise, we are able to guide our clients through the intricate regulatory environment and help them achieve and maintain compliance in this rapidly evolving industry.

As the crypto industry becomes more regulated, what specific compliance challenges do you anticipate businesses and crypto holders will face in the near future?

As the crypto industry becomes more regulated, businesses and crypto holders will face several compliance challenges. These challenges, including travel and disclosure of identity, are:

Gilson Ribeiro Da Costa, CEO of VAF Compliance
Gilson Ribeiro Da Costa, CEO of VAF Compliance

Anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) compliance: As the crypto industry becomes more mainstream, it will become a more attractive target for criminals. Businesses and crypto holders will need to implement robust AML and CTF measures to prevent their platforms from being used for illicit activity.

Tax compliance: Businesses and crypto holders will need to comply with tax laws in the jurisdictions they operate in. This can be complex and time-consuming, especially for ones operating in multiple jurisdictions.

Know-your-customer (KYC) and customer due diligence (CDD) requirements: Businesses and crypto holders will need to conduct KYC and CDD on their customers to ensure that they are not engaging in illegal activity. This can be a time-consuming and expensive process, especially for businesses accommodating a large number of customers.

Regulatory reporting requirements: Businesses and crypto holders will need to comply with regulatory reporting requirements in the jurisdictions they operate in. This can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially for businesses that operate in multiple jurisdictions.

Cybersecurity risks: The crypto industry is a target for cyber-attacks. Businesses and crypto holders will need to implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect their platforms and customers from attack.

These are just some of the compliance challenges that businesses and crypto holders will face as the crypto industry becomes more regulated. Businesses and crypto holders will need to be proactive in addressing these challenges to remain compliant and protect their businesses and customers.

How does your Telegram bot work and how can it help users avoid tainted funds?

The Telegram bot allows you to obtain a quick risk assessment report for any wallet address. We cover all major blockchains and can provide you with an easy-to-read report that explains the risk level before accepting any funds in your wallet. This way, you can avoid tainted funds from landing in your wallet. We aim to democratise data so that everyone can have access to it, and we also seek to educate and help people understand their risk exposure when conducting crypto transactions.

How can users ensure that their personal or business digital assets remain compliant with constantly evolving regulations? Furthermore, in what ways can VAF assist them in navigating the intricate landscape and conducting transactions in a secure environment?

In order to adhere to the continuously evolving regulations, it is crucial for users to remain well-informed, perform thorough due diligence, and establish strong compliance protocols. VAF is well-equipped to help in this regard by providing extensive regulatory knowledge, expert compliance consulting, secure transaction solutions, and comprehensive risk assessment services.

By availing themselves of VAF’s expertise, users can effectively navigate the intricate regulatory landscape and ensure secure and compliant transactions. In essence, VAF’s risk assessment services and specialized knowledge enable users to comprehend, implement, and uphold the necessary compliance measures within the dynamic realm of regulations. Through leveraging VAF’s support, users can confidently navigate the complexities associated with regulations and conduct cryptocurrency transactions in a secure and compliant manner.

What is your vision for the future of this space, and how do you plan to position your company to meet these challenges and continue to provide industry-leading services to your clients?

My vision for the future of the crypto space is that it will become a more mainstream and regulated industry. This will lead to increased adoption and investment in crypto assets, which will create new opportunities for businesses and individuals.

In order to effectively address these challenges and consistently deliver exceptional services to our clients, VAF has devised a strategic plan encompassing the following key initiatives:

Remain abreast of the most recent regulations and emerging trends within the industry.

Pioneer innovative solutions tailored to the specific requirements of our clients.

Assemble a formidable team of experts possessing extensive expertise in the realm of cryptocurrencies.

Forge strategic partnerships with other industry frontrunners to foster a more collaborative and supportive ecosystem.

By implementing these measures, VAF aims to maintain its position as a leading service provider, equipped to tackle evolving challenges and effectively meet the diverse needs of its clients.

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