The Italian National Commission for Companies and the Stock Exchange (Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa – Consob), issued a very short report two days ago that the companies B.H.N.V. Online Ltd/Bnet on-line Ltd, Bo Investments Ltd, BFM Markets, Seaside Payment Services Ltd, BFXoption and Chronoption are not authorized to provide investment services in Italy in any way.
The warning also listed their respective websites which Italians should not use: www.opteck.com, www.banqueoption.com, www.bfmmarkets.com, www.tradersleader.com, www.bfxoption.com and www.chronoption.com.
There was no explanation as to why these specific binary options brokers were targeted from the hundreds of similar ones, but they all do seem to have Italian support on their website without an Italian license. Last year, Consob banned six other binary options brokers and blocked their websites from being accessible to Italians.
Forex Magnates made contact with the regulator to try and find out if this is part of a larger European move against the industry which has been put into motion, and why those brokers were specifically mentioned and what further steps are being planned by the regulator. Here is the official response in full:
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“In order to clarify the subject of binary options and prevent phenomena
of unauthorised provision to the Italian public of investment services
involving the said options, the Commission has considered it opportune to
formulate a communication of a general nature which reflects the
pronouncement adopted recently by the European Commission.
Such operations (“binary options” or “digital options”) have, in fact,
become common on the market. They have a structure similar to that of a bet
because they assure payment of a pre-set amount if the event occurs (the
security, index or other underlying factor reaches a certain price), before
or within a certain deadline; if the event does not occur, the “buyer” of
the option loses the entire amount invested.
In Communication No. 12055030 of 2 July 2012, as already clarified by the
Services of the European Commission, Consob specified that binary options,
contracts settled in cash, fall within the category of financial
instruments pursuant to Annex 1, Sect. C of Directive 2004/39/EC (“MiFID”):
Consequently all subjects intending to provide investment services
involving binary options to the (Italian) public must possess the necessary
authorisation issued by the competent Authorities.
Consob has issued warnings about unauthorised companies providing binary
options services without being authorised. Not only Consob has published this kind of warnings; see also Esma and the French AMF.”
From the regulator’s response it seems clear that Consob regards certain types of binary options as gambling and requires brokers offering them to get licensed accordingly. The regulator did not specify what it’s planning next, like banning IPs or filing legal suits, but it is evident it considers its actions as part of a larger European level approach.