Registration of Virtual Asset Service Providers - FMA Österreich
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Registration of Virtual Asset Service Providers

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General Information and Legal Bases

In transposing Directive (EU) 2018/843 (5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive) with the entry into force of the Act Amending EU Provisions in Financial Laws (EU-FinAnpG 2019; EU-Finanz-Anpassungsgesetz 2019), published in Federal Law Gazette I No. 62/2019), in which, among other laws, the Financial Markets Anti-Money Laundering Act (FM-GwG) has been been amended, 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.”

Virtual asset service providers 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 or 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 (e.g. in connection with an “Initial Coin Offering” or an “Initial Token Offering”, etc.).

Pursuant to Article 32a FM-GwG virtual asset service providers that intend to provider their service pursuant to Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG in connection with virtual currencies pursuant to Article 2 no. 21 FM-GwG on a commercial basis domestically (i.e. With place of residence/incorporation in Austria), or offer the service from Austria, are required to apply for a registration from the FMA beforehand.

Where a service provider that is established in a foreign country provides a service pursuant to Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG in Austria, then for example the following criteria are to be taken into account as part of the overview (link to Austria):

  • Information about or being active through an Austrian point of contact/agent;
  • Utilisation of an Austrian distribution network, in order to specifically target the Austrian market;
  • Opening of a (subsidiary) company or premises in Austria;
  • Design of the website, e.g. By supplying Austrian contact details, references to Austria as a country or connection to an Austria website by means of API interfaces etc.;
  • Various marketing activities or the placing of advertisements for advertising the service or the product in Austria;
  • etc.

In contrast to this, the active provision of the service domestically is not assumed, where e.g. persons resident in Austria make use of such services at their own initiative. For the obligation to register in Austria to apply, the initiative for concluding a contract is required to originate from the foreign virtual assets service provider.

No possibility exists for passporting in the field of provision of services pursuant to Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG.

A legal obligation to register has existed since 10.01.2020. Only once the registration has taken place and the administrative decision has become legally valid is the supplied applied for allowed to be offered and performed.

Offering a service pursuant to Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG without a registration constitutes an administrative offence and shall be punished by the FMA with a fine of up to EUR 200 000 (Article 34 para. 4 FM-GwG).

The registration application is to be submitted to the FMA electronically (where several files are submitted max. 40 MB/file) to the e-mail address reg.virtuellewaehrungen@fma.gv.at.

For natural persons as service providers

  • Forename and surname, date and place of birth of the service 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;
  • A current extract of a judicial record (not older than six weeks) of the provider or an equivalent foreign document;
  • Description of the business model including the precise details about which services listed in Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG are being applied for. The respective service applied for must be presented in detail in the form of a workflow procedure containing the information about which companies are involved in the process, what tasks they perform, who is in a contractual relationship with whom, how the transfer between fiat money and virtual currencies is handled as well as which virtual currencies are covered (with delineation between crypto currencies and tokens including the functional design of the tokens). Furthermore, details should also be provided about the start of planned business activities or existing business activities.
  • A description of the internal control system and the planned strategies and procedures in order to meet the requirements set out in the and Regulation (EU) 2015/847 (“Transfer of Funds Regulation”) as well as the requirements in FATF Recommendation 16 (“travel rule”[1]), including details about the person that will take over the role of the Anti-Money-Laundering Officer, consisting of information and proof with regard to the expertise and qualification for performing the position as well as proof of personal reputation (curriculum vitae, references, extract of a judicial record etc.).
  • Proof of having successfully passed an intern “Fit & Proper test” (see the FMA Circular on “Internal organisation for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing” (available in German at FMA-Rundschreiben – English translations will be published when the updated version is published)).

[1] Para 7b of Interpretive Note [INR] 15.

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 excerpt (no older than six weeks) 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) (holder of a qualifying holding) including copies of an official photo identification document of the beneficial owner(s);
  • An up-to-date (no older than six weeks) 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 (holder of a qualifying holding);
  • 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)
  • Description of the business model including the precise details about which services listed in Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG are being applied for. The respective service applied for must be presented in detail in the form of a workflow procedure containing the information about which companies are involved in the process, what tasks they perform, who is in a contractual relationship with whom, how the transfer between fiat money and virtual currencies is handled as well as which virtual currencies are covered (with delineation between crypto currencies and tokens including the functional design of the tokens). Furthermore, details should also be provided about the start of planned business activities or existing business activities.
  • A description of the internal control system and the planned strategies and procedures in order to meet the requirements set out in the and Regulation (EU) 2015/847 (“Transfer of Funds Regulation”) as well as the requirements in FATF Recommendation 16 (“travel rule”[2]), including details about the person that will take over the role of the Anti-Money-Laundering Officer, consisting of information and proof with regard to the expertise and qualification for performing the position as well as proof of personal reputation (curriculum vitae, references, extract of a judicial record etc.).
  • Proof of having successfully passed an intern “Fit & Proper test” (see the FMA Circular on “Internal organisation for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing” (available in German at FMA-Rundschreiben – English translations will be published with the updated versions)).

[2] Para 7b of Interpretive Note [INR] 15

Foreign documents (e.g. excerpts from registers, memoranda of association etc.) must be submitted as certified translations (in German or English).

We refer to the FMA Circular on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing for drawing up the description of the internal control system (available in German at FMA-Rundschreiben – English translations will be published with the updated versions)).

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.

Where the FMA has grounds to believe based on the details submitted during the registration procedure or based on observations under supervisory law that the requirements set out in the FM-GwG, the Transfer of Funds Regulation and FATF Recommendation 16 may not be fulfilled or where it has doubts about the personal reputation of the director(s), the natural person that holds a qualifying holding or the natural persion pursuant to Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG, then the FMA shall not perform the registration.

A fee is charged for the processing of the registration of providers in relation to virtual currencies pursuant to Article 32a FM-GwG. The fee is Euro 3,000 (See the FMA Regulation on Fees (available in German only)). The notification about the registration having been performed is in the form of an administrative decision.

In registering the virtual assets service provider there is no approval of the processes, procedures and systems for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing submitted as part of the registration procedure. Registrations are published on the FMA website. When the provider is registered, an entry is made in the FMA Company Database.

As a result of the registration providers in relation to virtual currencies become obliged entities under the FM-GwG and are subject to ongoing supervision by the FMA exclusively in the field of prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. 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. Ongoing supervision by the FMA is subject to costs. The ongoing costs of supervision pursuant to Article 21a para. 3 of the FMA Regulation on Fees (FMA-Gebührenverordnung) (German only) are 1% of the gross fees from services in relation to virtual currencies to be reported annually to the FMA received annually by the supervised institution or at least EUR 500 as a lump sum each year.

Virtual asset service providers that are established in a foreign country and which offer and perform their registered service pursuant to Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG in Austria are also required to observe the respective national provisions on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.