Former Komainu President Henson Orser Joins Dubai’s Crypto Regulator as CEO

Henson Orser was the president of Nomura’s crypto custody project Komainu.
Image source: Henson Orser / Twitter

Quick take:

  • Orser was president of Komainu for almost two years.
  • He now leads Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority.
  • Orson is the crypto regulator’s first CEO.

Henson Orser, the former president of Komainu, has been appointed the CEO of Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA). 

The VARA was formed in March last year specifically for regulating the virtual assets industry and granting licenses to crypto operators in Dubai. After joining the regulator on Jan 3, Orser is VARA’s first CEO as the Emirati city seeks to establish itself as a crypto and metaverse hub.

Prior to taking the reins at VARA, Orser spent almost two years as the president of Komainu, a digital asset custody solution jointly built by investment bank Nomura, investment house CoinShares and crypto assets security firm Ledger.

Before pivoting to the crypto industry, Orser had a three-decades-long career in traditional finance. From 2012 – 2019, he held various senior roles at Nomura, leading the global markets in Americas and a stint as the global head of wholesale SRM. Before that, he spent 17 years at the Royal Bank of Scotland before moving to Nomura in a variety of roles.

According to its website, VARA is the world’s first independent regulator for virtual assets that aims to develop a digital economy in Dubai to boost its competitive edge locally and internationally as well as attract investments and businesses to set up their base in the city.

Orser told The Block that VARA is “the first purely virtual asset regulatory authority” that is “gold standard, tier one and even passportable to other jurisdictions” and compliant with the crypto regulation crypto regulation published by the Financial Action Task Force.

VARA is currently preparing for its MVP phase to allow for approved licensees to fulfil the pre-conditions required to operate. This means that MVP licensees are not allowed to provide any regulated services until VARA’s operationalisation of the MVP Phase.

In September and November last year, VARA granted provisional licenses to Binance, Komainu, Hex Trust and FTX. Following its collapse, FTX had its license revoked in November.


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