Belgian Markets’ Watchdog Mandates Registrations for Crypto Service Providers

Starting tomorrow, crypto exchanges and wallet providers operating in Belgium need to register with the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA).

The new Belgian registration mandate applies exclusively to crypto exchange and wallet companies with a physical facility or another establishment (such as a bitcoin ATM) in Belgium, not to companies registered elsewhere providing services to Belgians. Exchanges are defined as “services consisting of purchase and sale transactions, with own funds, exchanging virtual currency for fiat currency, or fiat currency for virtual currency,” and a wallet provider as “an entity that offers services to secure private cryptographic keys on behalf of its clients in order to hold, store and transfer virtual currency.”

Requirements for registration

The FSMA will have different cryptocurrency exchange and wallet provider registers. Companies found operating without registration may face one month to one year of prison time, with possible fines ranging from EUR 400 to EUR 80,000. To register, companies must meet some essential requirements. Two requirements of note are that senior management must be natural people, appropriately skilled, and possess a “professional reliability,” The company must have EUR 50,000 in capital, and must have in place the requisite anti-money laundering policies. The FSMA must be made aware of the identity of natural persons shareholders holding at least a 5% stake in the company and be convinced of the ability of these shareholders to manage the establishment soundly.

The FSMA will allow crypto service providers already operating on May 1, 2022, to continue business as usual while the agency mulls their applications. Such companies need to notify the FSMA of their wish to exercise this privilege by July 1, 2022. Their registration applications must be submitted before Sep. 1, 2022.

FSMA will notify within three months

The FSMA will inform applicants via a registered letter of the success or failure of their applications no later than three months after the reception of a completed application. Successful applicants will receive a unique registration, or enterprise number, which must be used for all the company’s future correspondence with the FSMA. The time taken to consider the application will depend on its quality.

The applications attract an initial non-refundable fee of EUR 8,000 for each application for either an exchange service or a wallet service. If an application is made for both, EUR 16,000 must be paid.

This new registration mandate is in line with the outcomes of a survey reported by BeInCrypto in Sep. 2021 which indicated that 60% of Europeans prefer individual governments to regulate crypto, rather than the European Union.

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