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Belgium’s FSMA releases registration steps for digital assets firms

Belgium, the European Union (EU) and NATO headquarters, is introducing a registration regime for digital assets firms. The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has introduced new guidelines for Virtual Assets Service Providers (VASPs) to get licensed in the country.

The guideline outlined seven conditions for digital asset companies to meet to register. The first one is that the company must at least be incorporated as either a Belgian public limited company/cooperative society, a European company, or a cooperative society and have a minimum capital of EUR 50,000 (approximately $53,700).

It follows that companies seeking registration will need to have registered corporate offices and central points of contact in Belgium. They also need to have effective management and sound and prudent shareholders.

Similarly, they must also comply with Belgian laws to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. Fulfilling all these, digital asset companies are also required to meet all cybersecurity standards and make payments toward the FSMA’s operating cost in carrying out their regulatory duties.

In a notice, the FSMA stated that the conditions went into force last May 1, and are binding on any legal person in Belgium that provides exchange services between digital currencies and legal currencies or custody wallet services.

“As from 1 May 2022, any legal person established in Belgium that wants to provide exchange services between virtual currencies and legal currencies, or custody wallet services, within Belgium will have to register with the FSMA in advance,” the FSMA notice read.

It adds that providers already operating on the date must notify the FSMA of their activity before July 1 and apply for registration before September 1.

Digital assets adoption in Belgium

The digital currency industry is well represented in the Western European country, with even some level of notoriety. Back in 2018, the FSMA published a list of suspicious digital assets investment firms to protect investors.

Following subsequent updates, the list has over 120 such firms included. However, the warnings have not dampened the adoption of digital assets even among government circles and among the country’s population.

Earlier this year, Christophe De Beukelaer, a Belgian member of parliament representing the city of Brussels, announced that he would accept his salary in Bitcoin all through 2022. A report by Triple-A revealed that an estimated 2.36% of all Belgians held digital currencies at the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, the country’s financial sector has not been left out. Per a Reuters report, the Belgium-based securities settlement house, Euroclear, joined a consortium of banks building a blockchain-backed payments system called Fnality.

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