The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates has regulatory authority over virtual assets that are earmarked for payment purposes, such as Stored Value Facilities (SVF).

An SVF¬†refers to a non-cash facility where a customer or their representative pays an amount of money (including non-monetary forms such as reward points, crypto-assets, or virtual assets) to the issuer. In return, the issuer provides storage of the value of that money (including non-monetary forms) on the facility, either wholly or partly, and a “Relevant Undertaking”. The two types of SVF are Device-based Stored Value Facility and Non-device based Stored Value Facility.

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) is the primary financial regulator and monetary authority in the country. It was established in 1980 and is responsible for overseeing the banking and financial sector in the UAE.

The CBUAE’s primary objective is to maintain monetary and financial stability in the country. It achieves this by formulating and implementing monetary policy, supervising financial institutions, regulating the payment system, and managing the country’s foreign exchange reserves. Overall, the CBUAE is a crucial institution in the UAE’s financial landscape, playing a vital role in ensuring the country’s economic stability and growth.


The Central Bank of the UAE serves as a gatekeeper for the financial industry by setting the minimum standards for market entry and changes through its licensing function. The responsibility for issuing the licensing policy is derived from the Central Bank Law, which grants the CBUAE the authority to license, govern, and supervise financial institutions in the UAE. Applicants seeking to obtain a license must submit the official application forms and supporting documents to the Licensing Division in accordance with the requirements.

Companies and individuals are required to seek permission from CBUAE before conducting any regulated activities. Banks can obtain a license for their operations by applying through the online platform provided by CBUAE.

Types of Licences

Here are the different kinds of licenses that the CBUAE issues:

  1. Bank Licence (Conventional and Islamic Bank licence),
  2. Insurance,
  3. Finance companies,
  4. Exchange business,
  5. Monetary Intermediary,
  6. Representative Office,
  7. Stored Valued Facilities (SVF),
  8. Large-value Payment Systems (LVPS),
  9. Retail Payment Services,
  10. Retail Payment System,
  11. Loan-based Crowd Funding,
  12. Card Scheme

New applicants and unlicensed businesses can contact the CBUAE to inquire about the licensing process and/or to apply for a licence.

The CBUAE may grant ‘in-principle’ approval to new applicants if their applications meet the necessary criteria. Applicants must fulfill the requirements outlined in the CBUAE’s ‘in-principle’ approval letter within one year of the letter’s issuance for the application to be considered successful.

An ‘in-principle’ approval cannot be regarded as the application’s final approval. Financial institutions cannot engage in activities that are subject to CBUAE oversight until they have been granted a licence through the application process. Even after issuing an ‘in-principle’ approval, the CBUAE is not compelled to provide the licence if the application does not meet the requisite parameters. The CBUAE will grant the necessary licence to candidates who have fulfilled all the requirements. In addition, the CBUAE will specify any limitations or requirements that the licensee must meet.