Estonia’s Ministry of Finance does not plan to ban citizens from HODLing or trading cryptos. The ministry disclosed this news through a press release on January 2, noting that the recently approved draft bill on legislating virtual asset service providers (VASPs) only seeks to minimize the risk of financial crimes. To this end, the policies suggested in the draft only target VASPs, not customers.
According to the news release, the legislation does not contain any measures that ban individuals from owning or trading cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the Ministry of Finance pointed out that the proposed measures do not in any way need Estonian citizens that have embraced crypto to share private keys to their wallets.
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The Ministry of Finance further noted that,
The regulation does not affect individuals who own virtual currency through a private wallet not provided by a VASP. However, accounts opened with Estonian VASPs cannot be anonymous and Estonian VASPs cannot offer anonymous accounts or wallets.
Per the draft, VASPs that facilitate crypto transactions will have to integrate an identity system for their customers. The Ministry of Finance also suggested that identities should be linkable to transactions, just like how banks can link a specific transaction to someone.
If the party on the receiving end cannot process such information, the draft suggests that VASPs should implement real-time risk analysis. The Ministry of Finance added that these measures are parallel to the ones it implements on transactions facilitated by banks and payment service providers.
Embracing FATF’s updated requirements on VASPs
The Estonian Ministry of Finance added that the draft transposes the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recommendations to let service providers transact with other parties from jurisdictions that have not yet enforced similar requirements. Reportedly, the proposed draft would integrate FATF’s updated international standards on VASPs.
Per the draft, VASP licenses will only be available to companies operating in Estonia or firms associated with the country. This amendment seeks to change the current Estonian rules, which allow the resale of firms that have obtained a license to third parties who are not connected to or do not operate in Estonia.
Explaining why it seeks to introduce the above restriction, the Ministry of Finance said,
Supervising such entities is unfeasible and the risk of abuse endangers Estonian VASPs who operate transparently and in good faith.
The draft also proposes a capital requirement that will significantly affect small VASPs. Under the proposed rules, VASPs will need to maintain a minimum of 125 000 or 350 000 euros of share capital, depending on the services they offer. At the moment, the floor price is 12,000 euros. By raising the floor price, the ministry believes it will help minimize the number of dormant VASPs.
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