Virtual forex regulation

by Lionel Casey

A good sized benefit of virtual currencies is that they are decentralised. No bank or authority poses as the middleman for virtual forex transactions, which means that bills can be transferred without delay from one account to some other. This creates each blessings and dangers to safety. On the only hand, transactions do no longer incorporate private records and can’t be erased from the blockchain; but, alternatively, government can’t hint transactions back to an person person and can’t prevent a transaction from being concluded.

Bitcoin, for higher or worse, become used to sponsor WikiLeaks after authorities authorities had frozen its debts.(1) On comparable grounds, there’s the continuing risk that cryptocurrencies are used to sponsor terrorism, with Europol estimating that such transactions are located in 40% of high-profile investigations.(2) Moreover, digital currencies may be used for cash laundering.

These dangers have inevitably drawn the eye of EU and domestic regulators.

In a European Parliament report of 2018, it turned into noted that the most pertinent problems concerning cryptocurrencies are:

the anonymity of its customers;
the go-border nature of transactions; and
the death of a central authority.


EU regulation with reference to digital currencies centres on numerous anti-cash laundering directives.(three)

In response to the constrained scope of EU Fourth Anti-money Laundering Directive (2015/849 EU) (AMLD4), which did no longer amplify onto digital currencies, the European Union adopted EU Fifth Anti-money Laundering Directive (2018/843/EU) (AMLD5), which entered into pressure in 2018 and ought to be transposed locally with the aid of 10 January 2020. This directive turned into the first to introduce cryptocurrencies into its definition and additionally covers cryptocurrency offerings (ie, custodial wallet companies and virtual forex companies). These entities are regulated similarly to banks and monetary establishments and have to perform client due diligence (ie, reporting suspicious hobby to the applicable authorities). Finally, the entities could be challenge to registration. Notably, the AMLD5 does not completely cope with the difficulty of anonymity of transfers and users.(4)


In Austria, there’s no domestic legislation that immediately applies to digital currencies, although operations using cryptocurrencies might also fall below current legal guidelines. The Financial Market Authority (FMA) has stated that Bitcoin is explicitly now not inside their authority “because of its lack of company”.(five) Similar reasoning need to observe to different digital currencies.

On the alternative hand, particular commercial enterprise fashions can also have licensing requirements. For instance, structures for getting crypto property, which settle bills in euros, require a licence below the Payment Services Act 2018 (ZaDiG 2018; Zahlungsdienstegesetz 2018). Purely technical services would no longer be included through these licensing requirements, but could maximum likely be captured via the requirement for a wellknown alternate licence necessary for sporting on a alternate in Austria.

Using cryptocurrencies for funding functions can be treated as a banking business regulated with the aid of the Banking Act or an opportunity investment fund regulated through the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Act. A similar licensing requirement is imposed on brokers of alternative fee techniques if they act as intermediaries for deposits or loans and coverage (eg, wherein an app or wallet is attached to an current bank account).(6)

Further, receiving price range from a party for industrial control or a deposit would represent a banking transaction pursuant to the Banking Act. On the complete, the FMA recommends that a case-by way of-case evaluation of compliance is carried out for every business model.(7)

Notably, there may be no precise home regulation addressing digital currency sales, which can be instead covered through the general commodities regulation. Gains from digital currencies are subject to an as much as 55% innovative earnings tax imposed on people and 25% on corporations. Equally, such revenue is valued introduced tax exempt. Mining is authorized and there are not any necessities for it to be said or declared.(eight)

However, mining may also fall under the overall change licensing responsibilities. This is related to the broader question of whether or not cryptocurrencies need to be viewed as commodities or currencies. If the latter view is correct, mining might be an illegal activity of cash manufacturing (coinage) over which governments have a total monopoly. Viewing cryptocurrencies as commodities and mining as an pastime of trade is more likely correct, given that there may be no supply claiming that cryptocurrencies are outright unlawful and a breach of coinage monopoly. In fact, governments which prohibit cryptocurrencies accomplish that for different motives, such as threats to home banking or the incapacity to conduct surveillance.(9) If so, mining calls for a fashionable exchange licence underneath Austrian regulation.

Facebook’s Libra currency

Facebook recently announced its intention to enter the digital foreign money marketplace with its own forex called Libra. Contrary to Bitcoin, its transactions might require the permission of an middleman. Further, its cost is not related to any other actual currency. Instead, Libra is pegged to low-volatility property, inclusive of financial institution deposits and government securities in one-of-a-kind currencies.(10) This could make sure a better cost stability than that of Bitcoin, for example, that is especially risky.


The emergence of recent digital currencies signals the urgency for more law. However, flexibility to legislate on such new products changed into given to the European Commission. It has been mandated until 11 January 2022 to take a look at and draft legislative proposals for further regulatory measures. Consequently, there have to be more regulation anticipated for virtual currencies – each from the European Union and on the home stage. The Belgian Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 is already active within the location, and the Austrian FMA is possible to observe the match. (11)

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