Registration of Providers in relation to Virtual Currencies

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With the Act Amending EU Provisions in Financial Laws (EU-FinAnpG 2019; EU-Finanz-Anpassungsgesetz 2019), published in Federal Law Gazette I No. 62/2019)  Austria transposed Directive (EU) 2018/843 (5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive) into national law. Among other laws, the Financial Markets Anti-Money Laundering Act (FM-GwG) has been amended. With the entry into force of the aforementioned act the FMA has become the competent authority for the registration and ongoing supervision of service providers in relation to virtual currencies with regard to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.

Article 2 no. 21 FM-GwG defines virtual currencies as “a digital representation of value that is not issued or guaranteed by a central bank or a public authority, is not necessarily attached to a legally established currency and does not possess a legal status of currency or money, but is accepted by natural or legal persons as a means of exchange and which can be transferred, stored and traded electronically.”

Providers in relation to virtual currencies are defined in Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG as all providers (i.e. both natural persons and legal entities) that offer one or more of the following services:

  • services to safeguard private cryptographic keys, to hold, store and transfer virtual currencies on behalf of a customer (custodian wallet providers);
  • exchanging of virtual currencies into fiat currencies and vice versa;
  • exchanging of one or more virtual currencies between one another;
  • transferring of virtual currencies;
  • the provision of financial services for the issuance and selling of virtual currencies.

Pursuant to Article 32a FM-GwG providers in relation to virtual currencies intending to provide their activity in Austria or to offer the service from Austria, are required to submit a registration to the FMA beforehand.

The legal provisions regarding the registration of providers in relation to virtual currencies enter into force on 01.10.2019 – registration applications may therefore be submitted to the FMA from then onwards. The legal obligation to register exists with effect from 10.01.2020.

The registration application must be submitted to the FMA in electronic form to the e-mail address (reg.virtuellewaehrungen@fma.gv.at).

For natural persons as providers

  • Forename and surname, date and place of birth of the provider including a copy of an official photo identification document;
  • ERsB number;
  • Place of incorporation (residence) of the provider as well as an e-mail address and telephone number;
  • Up-to-date extract of a judicial record of the provider or an equivalent foreign document;
  • Description of the business model with precise details and description about the respective service in relation to virtual currencies pursuant to Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG including information about start date of the planned or existing business activity;
  • Description about the internal control system and the planned policies and procedures for fulfilling the requirements set out in the FM-GwG and Regulation (EU) 2015/847 (“Regulation on information accompanying transfers of funds”);

For legal entities as providers

  • Information about the undertaking (especially the company name, registered office, business address, e-mail address and telephone number, Commercial Register number);
  • Up-to-date excerpt from the Commercial Register or an equivalent excerpt from a public register/database for the provider;
  • Forename and surname, date and place of birth of the director including a copy of an official photo identification document;
  • Forename and surname, date and place of birth of the beneficial owner(s) pursuant to Article 4 (1) point 36 of Regulation (EU) No 575/2013 (CRR) including copies of an official photo identification document of the beneficial owner(s);
  • An up-to-date extract of a judicial record of the director(s) as well as the beneficial owner(s) pursuant to Article 4 (1) point 36 of Regulation (EU) No 575/2013;
  • Description of the business model with precise details and description about the respective service in relation to virtual currencies pursuant to Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG including information about start date of the planned or existing business activity;
  • Description about the internal control system and the planned policies and procedures for fulfilling the requirements set out in the FM-GwG and Regulation (EU) 2015/847 (“Regulation on the Transfer of Funds”);
  • A depiction of the ownership and control structure of the service provider in the form of an organisation chart including information about the amount of the participation held by the beneficial owner(s) pursuant to Article 4 (1) point 36 of Regulation (EU) No 575/2013 (CRR)

The FMA reserves the right to obtain additional information and documentation during the registration procedure in relation to the description of the business model as well as the description of the internal control system for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.

A fee is charged for the processing of the registration of providers in relation to virtual currencies pursuant to Article 32a FM-GwG. The notification about the registration having been performed is in the form of an administrative decision. Thereafter ongoing supervision costs apply for registered providers.

Registrations are published on the FMA website. Once registered the provider is entered into the FMA’s Company Database.

As a result of the registration providers in relation to virtual currencies become obliged entities under the FM-GwG. The FMA will check compliance with the provisions in the FM-GwG as well as Regulation (EU) 2015/847 on information accompanying transfers of funds as part of its ongoing supervisory activities.

It should be noted in this regard that the FMA’s ongoing supervision relates solely to the observance of the provisions of the FM-GwG as well as Regulation (EU) 2015/847 on information accompanying transfers of funds.

For those services in relation to virtual currencies that are not performed in Austria, the respective national provisions must also be taken into consideration.