Compulsory registration of crypto platforms since May 1
Faced with the scale of the phenomenon, Belgium, which has long remained passive in the face of cryptocurrencies, is in turn planning a regulation to supervise them. From May 1, crypto exchange platforms as well as digital wallet providers operating on Belgian territory will have to register with the local authoritythe Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA).
There is a small nuance to remember: this compulsory registration does not apply to companies registered in another country and which provide services relating to cryptocurrencies to Belgians. It is imperative that the company in question has a physical infrastructure in Belgium for registration to become compulsory: either its head office, or a Bitcoin ATM, etc.
Exchanges are defined as “services consisting of buying and selling transactions, with equity, exchanging virtual currency for fiat currency, or fiat currency for virtual currency“.
A digital wallet provider is defined as “an entity that offers services to secure private cryptographic keys on behalf of its customers to hold, store and transfer virtual currency“.
The FSMA specifies that the platforms which are already in operation on 1 May 2022 have a provisional authorization and will therefore be able to continue their activities normally while the authority studies their requests. However, they must notify the exercise of their activity to the FSMA before July 1, 2022, and formulate a complete registration file before September 1, 2022.
This measure directly echoes to the registration introduced by the Pacte law and issued in France by the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) which confers on companies the status of service provider on digital assets (PSAN). For example, Coinhouse is the first platform to have obtained this status in France.
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A registration subject to essential conditions
This compulsory registration is obviously subject to requirements, which are more or less similar to the French conditions. The company must in particular have at least 50,000 euros in capital and have put in place all the necessary conditions in terms of fight against money laundering.
Persons with the status of senior executives present in the company must be natural persons, be professionally reliable and possess the skills appropriate to their duties. These latter criteria are very vague and subjective: they will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis by the FSMA.
Belgian authority must be informed of the identity of all natural person shareholders holding at least 5% of the company’s capital to verify their ability to manage the establishment well.
If one of these conditions is missing, the registration will not be issued by the FSMA.
Penalties for failure to register
Companies that do not comply with this obligation risk sentences ranging from one month to one year in prison (for their leaders), and fines ranging from 400 euros to 80,000 euros (for the legal person).
The Belgian authority informs by registered letter whether the registration is accepted or not, within a maximum of 3 months after receipt of the complete file.
The authority also specifies on its blog that when a provider of services related to cryptocurrencies does not operate in accordance with the rules provided, it sets a deadline within which it must comply. According to the shortcomings, it reserves the right to prohibit the exercise of its activity as long as it is not in compliance.
The evolution of the cryptocurrency sector is such that more and more countries are deciding to adopt measures to regulate it. Some are implementing very restrictive measures (such as China), a few others are adopting Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender (such as El Salvador). In the case of Belgium, the official goal is not to ban the buying and selling of cryptocurrenciesbut simply to avoid abuses such as money laundering or the scam of retail investors, by regulating platforms that have a physical infrastructure in Belgium.
👉 On the same subject – Cuba: a license will now be required to offer cryptocurrencies
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