Within a few years, Estonia has managed to become practically a cryptocurrency paradise. Since 2017, more than 1,500 cryptocurrency companies have obtained a local license. However, in 2020, as part of the fight against money laundering, the regulator revoked two-thirds of cryptocurrency licenses and tightened requirements for the remaining companies.
In the short time, Estonia became famous for its cryptocurrency laws thanks to a progressive and open-minded legislation. Since 2017, it has been possible to obtain a license within a short period of time to legally work with cryptocurrencies from anywhere in the world.
However, the increasing number of cryptocurrency service providers has also increased many risks in the industry in Estonia. When suspicions of illegal money transfers amounting to hundreds of millions of euros were uncovered in the Estonian division of the Danish bank – Danske Bank, the country soon found itself at the center of a major scandal. This led regulators to revoke several hundred cryptocurrency licenses that companies had previously received in 2019. Some companies that had originally received a license but had not yet started operating within six months had their licenses revoked.
Changes in cryptocurrency laws for Estonian companies
The updated law, which came into force in 2022, affects all crypto companies already operating as well as applicants for the new licence. The companies were given a deadline of until July 2022 to implement the new regulations, otherwise their licences were revoked. The companies had to submit all the required documentation to the regulators, ensure local administration and set up a physical office.
In 2022, new rules for cryptocurrency companies came into force. This led to several changes for both existing companies and newly registered companies.
- Time for document review. Previously, the time limit for reviewing documents for cryptocurrency applications was 60 days, now it is 120 days. All documents must be submitted through the Register of Economic Activity.
- Localisation. Companies can no longer operate from board without having a local presence. It must have both a board member and a real office in the country. Regulators can verify the fact of physical presence at any time.
- Employees of the company. Persons responsible for the main activities of the company must be of good repute. Licensed personnel must not be involved in “dark cases” related to fraud, money laundering, financial manipulation, etc. When applying for a licence, the company must provide a criminal record, certificates and proof of training for the company’s key staff.
- Bank account. Businesses must have at least one bank account or an account with a financial institution in the European Union. According to the requirements, this bank or financial institution must be able to offer its services in Estonia. Our team will certainly assist you in opening an account for this type of company.
- Share capital. In the past, the share capital was EUR 12,000, but today it is EUR 100,000 for crypto exchange companies and EUR 250,000 for wallet providers. The share capital must be paid up in the form of a cash deposit. In addition, a percentage of the capital must be available in the company’s account at all times.
- State fee. Since 2022, the state fee for the licence is EUR 10 000.
- AML. Cryptocurrency businesses must have a local AML officer who is responsible for sanctions and customer verification. The person must have appropriate training and an impeccable reputation.
- Business plan. When applying for a licence, a business plan is required that includes the future development of the business as well as a technical description, risks and financial projections.
BBCTallinn specialists will help you to compile with regulations to meet Estonian government requirements for obtaining your cryptocurrency license in Estonia – read more