Business

Ed Drake

Estonia crypto licensing ‘getting harder’ after gov’t policy crackdown

Getting a cryptocurrency license in Estonia has just got a whole lot harder, following a decision from the Estonian government to pass tighter laws.

According to local consulting firm Eesti, new changes introduced by the Ministry of Finance have significantly raised the bar for new prospective licensees, through a number of extra obligations and stricter requirements for applicants.

Among the changes has been an increase in processing time from 30 to 90 days, as well as a requirement that the company or at least a branch is established in the country. Registered addresses and the board of directors now need to be based in the country, while the cost of the license has shot up by nearly 10x, to €3,330.

Estonian minister of finance, Martin Helme, said the changes were the result of lessons learned from experience of the local licensing system. He noted:

“We have learned our lesson from the banking sector the hard way, and we must now deal with new international risks, with cryptocurrencies among the most urgent of these.”

The new policies will apply to existing as well as new applicants, with license holders permitted to the end of this year to comply—or face having their licenses revoked.

In a press release published by the firm, Eesti said the new conditions would make it much more difficult to obtain the license.

“The Estonian Government approved a bill to toughen the regulation on granting virtual currency activity licences to service providers active in the sale and purchase of virtual currency or who provide virtual currency wallet services,” the firm stated. “It will be hard to get a cryptocurrency license now. The Financial Intelligence Unit has a right to invite a potentially responsible person for an interview to check Anti-Money Laundering knowledge of applicant. I hope that Estonia will attract foreign businesses still concerning cryptocurrency business location.”

The news comes at a time of increasing regulation in jurisdictions worldwide.

Last week, reports emerged from Germany of plans for regulation, which could pave the way for blockchain bonds as early as this year.

A number of other countries are actively strengthening regulation around cryptocurrency, with calls for the United States to follow suit in clarifying the legal position around cryptocurrency regulation and securities law.

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