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Crypto-Asset Service ProvidersCySEC’s June directive

02/07/2021

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In late June, the Cyprus Securities Exchange Commission (the “CySEC”) issued its new directive on the prevention and suppression of money laundering activities, which specifically focuses on crypto-asset service providers (the “CASPs”) and their duty to register with the CySEC. According to the directive, the CySEC will maintain a public register which will record, inter alia, the name and legal form of such CASPs, the services they will be allowed to offer and their individual internet domains.

To be able to register as a CASP, any applicants will have to meet certain criteria, including submitting to the CySEC a number of documents and necessary information. An applicant will also need to ensure that individuals holding a managing position are honest and competent, have appropriate policies and procedures to minimize risk of theft or loss of its clients’ cryprtoassets, as well as meet the capital adequacy requirements provided by the directive, which will differ depending on the CASP concerned.

Even after the CASP is registered, there will be a continuing duty to inform the CySEC and acquire its approval in relation to matters that qualify as substantial changes, including any changes to the CASP’s list of beneficiaries or its managing board.

Overall, a comprehensive and detailed legal framework governing crypto-assets can only be developed gradually, as regulators and supervisory authorities move to recognize the benefits and potential risks involved. Until then, the guidance that is provided by national competent authorities such as the CySEC will be particularly useful in guiding market actors.

Concurrently, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to fuel digitalization and investors’ demand for crypto-assets increases, the size and value of the crypto-assets market, as well as the need for future guidance will continue to grow. As such, both lawyers and market actors ought to closely monitor how the market develops.

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