The Swiss financial regulator, Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) announced on Monday that it had issued banking and securities dealers’ licenses to two cryptocurrency service providers.
The companies, namely, SEBA Crypto AG registered in Zug and Sygnum AG registered in Zurich, will provide services to institutional and professional customers. The press release added that, ” As usual, various conditions are attached, ensuring that the businesses are set up in an orderly manner. The practice set out in the guidance published today applies in full to the supervision of the two new institutions.”
Apart from that, FINMA also listed down various guidelines, for its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act. The regulatory body said institutions supervised by FINMA are only permitted to send cryptocurrencies or other tokens to external wallets belonging to their own customers whose identity has already been verified and are only allowed to receive cryptocurrencies or tokens from such customers. FINMA-supervised institutions are thus not permitted to receive tokens from customers of other institutions or to send tokens to such customers.
While, this is great news, it is important to know it is not always rainbows and sunshine. In March, FINMA said that a cryptocurrency exchange, Envion AG, which is now in liquidation, unlawfully received deposits from atleast 37,000 investors. The investigation started by the regulatory body in July 2018, appointed an investigating agent to investigate suspicious activity on site.
For the uninitiated, the company had issued so-called EVN tokens. Investors were able to purchase these tokens by making payments in US dollars as well as in the Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies. Envion AG granted the token owners a claim to repayment after thirty years. Furthermore, the conditions for the EVN tokens issued in a bond-like form were not equal for all investors, the prospectuses did not meet the minimum statutory requirements and there was no internal audit unit as required by law.
In the present case, this acceptance of US dollars and the Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies therefore amounted to an acceptance of public deposits for the purposes of the Banking Act. This however requires a banking licence.
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