Crypto-asset companies can now apply for licenses to handle as much as 100 million Swiss francs ($100 million) in public deposits under new regulations published on Dec. 3 by Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma). The development underscores the European country’s efforts to promote technological innovation, as in the past only commercial banks were allowed to receive such large deposits.
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Companies Cannot Re-Invest or Pay Interest on Deposits
There is a catch, however. Blockchain and cryptocurrency-related businesses that are granted the fintech licenses to manage large amounts of investor funds “may not invest” or “pay interest” on the deposits, according to the new guidelines, which go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
Finma has also set out stringent fiduciary and operational requirements for applicants. For example, cryptocurrency startups must submit clear documentation describing their business, target market and location. The regulator also requires full disclosure about board members, including their home addresses and any record of past criminal activity.
In addition, shareholders that directly or indirectly own 5 percent or more of the issued capital of a company must be disclosed to Finma. The same applies to foreign shareholders that hold equivalent equity stakes. Finma said that companies must submit any information on agreements, such as shareholder deals, and any “other ways in which the applicant may be controlled or materially influenced.”
“The license application must contain a detailed justification,” it added. “All relevant information must be documented, and changed documents must also be submitted with changes tracked.”