Five virtual currency service providers (VASPS) have now been authorized by Finland’s Financial Supervisory Authority (FIN-FSA) to provide cryptocurrency services in the region.
The five firms must also comply with EU anti-money laundering laws and will be subject to inspection.
As well, in announcing the registered firms, FIN-FSA’s Senior Digitalisation Specialist Hanna Heiskanen warned that, “virtual currencies are still, in many ways, high-risk investments.”
The five VASPS now registered in Finland are LocalBitcoins, a peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading service; NorthCrypto, a Bitcoin and Litecoin exchange; Prasos, offering multiple cryptocurrency services; Prasos Cash Management; and Tesseract Group, formerly Whaleland, providing crypto depositing and lending.
As of November 1st, 2019, only registered virtual currency providers fulfilling EU anti-money laundering requirements are allowed to operate in Finland.
There is also, “an obligation to register, and virtual currency providers that complete the registration process are entered in the FIN-FSA’s register.”
VASPs must register before they start operating and those that do not risk being fined.
As well, authorization in one part of the EU does not greelight these businesses in other parts of the EU:
“(R)egistration granted by a national competent authority of a Member State does not give the service provider authorisation to provide services in other EU Member States.”
According to the FIN-FSA, “The registration process requires significant effort from the applicants, for example concerning customer due diligence and written documentation of activities.”
“During the registration process, the FIN-FSA assesses whether the applicant has:
- adequate procedures for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing,
- the adequacy of the holding and safeguarding of client assets
- and whether the applicant’s management and key staff fulfil the fitness and propriety criteria.”
The FIN-FSA identified the following persistent risks in cryptocurrency investing:
- “extreme and abrupt price volatility”
- “information security threats on exchange platforms and wallet providers”
“It is an internationally recognised fact that virtual currencies and related services entail a high risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.”
The regulator also stated that the cryptocurrency sector remains less regulated than other financial sectors:
“Virtual currency providers are not subject to statutory risk management and capital adequacy requirements. The regulation and supervision of virtual currency providers is not as comprehensive as that of other financial sector entities.”
Heiskanen advised that Finnish investors using cryptocurrency exchanges abroad, “should find out whether the service provider is supervised by a national competent authority. It is advisable to study the risks carefully.”
“Potential investors should also examine the contract terms thoroughly,” she added.