Skip to content

Cryptocurrency Licensing

The regulation of cryptocurrency is a rapidly evolving area that varies widely across different countries and regions. In this article, we will explore the state of cryptocurrency regulation in several major markets around the world, including Canada, the United States, the UK, Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.

Starting with Canada, the regulatory environment for cryptocurrency is relatively favorable. The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) have issued guidance stating that cryptocurrencies may be subject to securities laws depending on their characteristics (CSA, 2018). In addition, the Canadian government has introduced the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, which requires virtual currency exchanges to register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and comply with certain anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing obligations (Government of Canada, 2018).

Moving on to the United States, the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrency is more fragmented as different states have taken different approaches to regulation. At the federal level, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has jurisdiction over futures contracts and derivatives based on cryptocurrency, while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has jurisdiction over securities offerings and trading (CFTC, 2018; SEC, 2018). In addition, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued guidance on the taxation of cryptocurrency transactions (IRS, 2014). Some states, such as New York, have implemented their own licensing regimes for virtual currency businesses through the BitLicense (NYDFS, 2015).

In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued guidance stating that some cryptocurrency-related activities may be regulated under existing financial services laws (FCA, 2018). The FCA has also published a list of authorized firms that are permitted to conduct cryptocurrency-related activities (FCA, 2021).

In Europe, the regulatory environment for cryptocurrency varies from country to country. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has issued a number of warnings on the risks associated with investing in cryptocurrency, but has not yet implemented any specific regulatory framework for cryptocurrency (ESMA, 2017). Some countries, such as Germany and France, have taken a more proactive approach to regulating cryptocurrency (Bafin, 2020; AMF, 2020), while others, such as Malta and Switzerland, have adopted a more permissive approach (MFSA, 2018; FINMA, 2019).

In Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued guidance stating that some cryptocurrency-related activities may be regulated under existing laws, such as the Securities and Futures Act and the Payment Services Act (MAS, 2014). The MAS has also established a framework for the regulation of initial coin offerings (ICOs) (MAS, 2017).

In Hong Kong, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has issued a statement stating that some cryptocurrency-related activities may be regulated under existing laws, such as the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFC, 2018). The SFC has also published a list of authorized firms that are permitted to conduct cryptocurrency-related activities (SFC, 2021).

Finally, in Japan, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) has taken a proactive approach to regulating cryptocurrency, implementing a licensing regime for virtual currency exchanges through the Payment Services Act (FSA, 2017). The FSA has also issued guidance on the regulation of ICOs (FSA, 2018).

In conclusion, the regulation of cryptocurrency is a complex and rapidly evolving area that differs significantly across different countries and regions. Some countries, such as Canada and Japan, have implemented more formalized regulatory regimes, while others, such as the United States and Europe, have taken a more piecemeal approach. Despite the differences in approach, it is clear that cryptocurrency is an area that is attracting increasing regulatory attention around the world. This is particularly important for businesses operating in the cryptocurrency space, as a clear regulatory framework can help to establish trust and confidence in the market. It is therefore essential for businesses to stay up-to-date on the regulatory developments in their jurisdiction and ensure that they are in compliance with any relevant regulations.

It is worth noting that the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrency is still evolving and it is likely that we will see further developments in this area in the coming years. This highlights the importance of businesses remaining agile and adaptable in order to navigate an ever-changing regulatory environment.

Overall, the state of cryptocurrency regulation is diverse and complex, with different countries taking different approaches to regulating this emerging technology. While some countries have implemented more formalized regulatory regimes, others have taken a more piecemeal approach. However, it is clear that cryptocurrency is an area that is attracting increasing regulatory attention around the world, and businesses operating in this space should stay up-to-date on the latest developments in order to remain compliant and build trust with their customers.

References:

AMF (2020). Cryptocurrencies: an overview of regulatory issues. Available at: https://www.amf-france.org/en/cryptocurrencies-an-overview-of-regulatory-issues

Bafin (2020). Virtual currencies: consumer warning. Available at: https://www.bafin.de/SharedDocs/Verbraucherhinweise/DE/virtual_currencies.html?nn=623716

CFTC (2018). CFTC primer on virtual currencies. Available at: https://www.cftc.gov/PressRoom/PressReleases/7227-18

ESMA (2017). ESMA highlights ICO risks for investors and firms. Available at: https://www.esma.europa.eu/press-news/esma-news/esma-highlights-ico-risks-investors-and-firms

FINMA (2019). Guidelines for enquiries concerning the supervisory law applicable to initial coin offerings (ICOs). Available at: https://www.finma.ch/en/documentation/guidelines/finma-guidelines-ico/

FCA (2018). Cryptoassets: guidance for firms. Available at: https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/finalised-guidance/cryptoassets.pdf

FCA (2021). Register of authorised firms. Available at: https://register.fca.org.uk/

Government of Canada (2018). Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. Available at: https://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/P-24.5/FullText.html

IRS (2014). Notice 2014-21. Available at: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-14-21.pdf

MAS (2014). A guide to digital token offerings. Available at: https://www.mas.gov.sg/regulation/regulatory-sandbox/a-guide-to-digital-token-offerings.pdf

MAS (2017). A framework for offering digital tokens in Singapore. Available at: https://www.mas.gov.sg/regulation/regulatory-sandbox/a-framework-for-offering-digital-tokens-in-singapore.pdf

MFSA (2018). MFSA issues guidance on initial coin offerings. Available at: https://www.mfsa.gov.mt/pages/viewcontentdet.aspx?contentId=1639

NYDFS (2015). NYDFS issues first BitLicense to Circle Internet Financial. Available at: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/about/press/pr1509101.htm

SEC (2018). Investor bulletin: initial coin offerings. Available at: https://www.sec.gov/oiea/investor-alerts-and-bulletins/ib_coinofferings

SFC (2018). Statement on initial coin offerings. Available at: https://www.sfc.hk/web/EN/news-and-announcements/policy-statements-and-announcements/statement-on-initial-coin-offerings.html

SFC (2021). Register of licensed corporations. Available at: https://www.sfc.hk/web/EN/regulatory-functions/intermediaries/register-of-licensed-corporations/search-the-register/search-the-register.html

CSA (2018). CSA staff notice 46-307 cryptocurrency offerings. Available at: https://www.securities-administrators.ca/uploadedFiles/Home/News_and_Events/News_Releases/2018/CSA_Staff_Notice_46-307_Cryptocurrency_Offerings.pdf

FSA (2017). Payment Services Act. Available at: https://www.fsa.go.jp/policy/laws/act/payment/index.html

FSA (2018). Guidelines for the regulation of initial coin offerings (ICOs). Available at: https://www.fsa.go.jp/policy/other/ico/index.html

Contact us!

This page was last updated on January 2, 2023.