Bitcoins are a virtual currency and are not subject to supervision by the Financial Market Authority. For some bitcoin-based business models, it may, however, be necessary to hold a licence issued by the Financial Market Authority.
This information is provided in the interests of investor and consumer protection.
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Bitcoins are not issued by a national central bank. Their purchasing power and price stability are therefore not secured and are subject to strong exchange rate fluctuations. Such exchange rate fluctuations make bitcoins highly speculative and may therefore lead to a total loss of invested capital.
Such trading platforms may be closed down at any time, as has already been the case in the past on several occasions. In the event of a trading platform closing e.g. as a result of insolvency or a country prohibiting the buying and selling and trading with bitcoins, there is not legal, deposit or investor protection. There are no centralised operators of such platforms, against whom action may be taken.
The software required to trade with bitcoins is not subject to any IT standard or security regulation prescribed under law. This creates various risks, such as losses arising from hacker attacks, software errors, from data loss etc.
Digital wallets are stored on computers, laptops and smartphones and are therefore vulnerable to hackers. Data is not stored centrally, and in the case of losing the key for your own digital wallet, there is no way to be able to access it. There are no contact persons available to handle complaints or enquiries or to provide assistance.
Acceptance of bitcoins as a form of payment is not guaranteed, and therefore remains at the full discretion of the respective contractual partner. Holders of bitcoins have no automatic right to have them accepted as a means of payment or to have bitcoins converted into real currencies. Unauthorised or incorrect transactions can therefore not be reversed.
There is no guarantee of the permanent existence of bitcoins as a digital currency as a means for exchange and payment.
Since transactions are barely traceable and both the recipient and sender remain anonymous, transactions using bitcoins may be used to pay for criminal acts e.g. money laundering, drug trafficking and child pornography.
The European Banking Authority (EBA) has issued warnings both for consumers as well as the traditional financial sector, and therefore explicitly warns against the buying, trading in or selling bitcoins. Anonymity is the main source of risk relating to virtual currencies, which may lead to the furthering of financial criminality and money laundering.
In the longer term, regulations are planned on an international level to address virtual currencies..