The United Arab Emirates is reportedly set to introduce regulations for initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country in the first half of next year, in a move that’s being made to provide businesses a fundraising alternative.

According to local news outlet The National, UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), the country’s markets watchdog, has revealed it has approved ICOs as securities and is now set to work with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and Dubai Financial Market to “develop trading platforms for ICOs next year.”

Obaid Al Zaabi, the SCA’s chief executive officer, was quoted as saying that agreements have been signed with law firms for these to come up with a “regulatory sandbox” and rulebooks for ICOs in the region. The National’s article notes a “regulatory sandbox” refers to “framework that facilitates the development of the financial technology industry.”

Al Zaabi added:

Legal requirements will be finished by the end of the first half of 2019… then there will be adoption of technology and development of infrastructure on the side of the exchanges.

Going forward, the SCA will help local stock markets with the adoption of blockchain technology and ICOs. Al Zaabi noted the market is now open, as “registration and licensing is available for all kinds of companies, from across the world.”

A plan to implement the new technology is reportedly going to be implemented in the near future. Addressing the year-long bear market the cryptocurrency ecosystem has been facing, the chief executive noted it isn’t a concern for the regulator. He was quoted as saying:

Bitcoin, Ethereum and others are not our business. We are more concerned about crypto issuance and how to bring them for trade [securities] on our exchanges

Notably the country has seemingly been opening up to the cryptocurrency space. As recently covered, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have recently revealed they’re set to jointly launch a cryptocurrency for interbank transactions.

Back in September, the country’s authorities warned against cryptocurrency-related scams, but notably predicted that electronic money was set to replace cash in the future.