The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), Switzerland’s financial regulator, is to offer a new fintech licence which is suitable for blockchain firms.
The licence is a modification of banking laws (Article 1b of the Banking Act) which will allow licencees to accept up to 100 million Swiss francs ($100.089 million) from the public as long as they do not invest the money, or pay interest on it. The new licence has been in development since February and will become active on the 1st of January.
In order to receive a licence, applicants must provide FINMA with information including:
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- A description of the business, including proposed activities and their geographical scope, intended customers, business premises including additional branches, and staff makeup.
- A full business and financial plan covering optimistic, realistic and pessimistic scenarios for three full years.
- A description of how customer money is stored.
- Declarations of conflicts of interest.
- All parties with a direct or indirect holding of 5 percent or more, including a graphic representation of the voting rights and capital holdings of all connected parties.
- These parties must report to FINMA themselves, and declare if their holdings are for themselves or third parties.
All members of the governing body of the project must also be accounted for. This means identity, address, CV, criminal record and current legal proceedings, and all business interests. If an individual is a foreign national, they must provide equivalent documentation from their country of origin.
Companies must also fulfil minimum capital requirements, agree to a financial audit, and declare if it intends to apply for additional licences in the future.
There are other authorisations available to blockchain firms in Switzerland, which is where the cryptocurrency version of Silicon Valley is located. For example, the country’s self-regulatory organisation offers a licence, and FINMA has already approved a cryptocurrency-based ETF, which will be traded on the country’s national stock exchange.