Crypto Asset Service Provider
Experts in CASP Licensing
Whether you are a start-up, an established company, or a foreign entity seeking to operate in the field of cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, our team can provide you with the guidance and support you need to obtain your CASP license. Our team has extensive experience in the field of cryptocurrencies and a deep understanding of the legal framework and regulatory landscape. Whether you need help preparing your application, navigating the licensing process, or dealing with any legal issues that may arise, our team is there to help.
What is the CySEC and what does it do?
The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (the CySEC) is the independent public authority responsible for the supervision of the investment services market, the collective investment and asset management sector, and the crypto-asset activities conducted in and out of the Republic of Cyprus.
The CySEC serves as the national competent authority for CASPs that offer their services in or from Cyprus, in relation to Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
The commission aims to establish the Cyprus securities market as a safe, reliable, and attractive investment destination, actively supporting financial technology (FinTech) projects that enhance the real economy and offer cost-effective services to investors.
Already in 2018, the CySEC established an innovation hub to explore the growth and use of FinTech developments including blockchain and DLT (distributed ledger technology), AI (artificial intelligence) tools, virtual/digital currencies, crypto exchanges and RegTech solutions.
In 2023, the CySEC launched a new regulatory sandbox to provide a controlled environment for FinTech startups and other entities to test their product or services in real conditions under the regulators’ supervision.
The CySEC currently has more than 830 entities under its supervision. This includes:
- More than 240 Investment Firms that are licensed and regulated by the CySEC under the MiFID II regime. Nearly half of these are part of the “FinTech” world.
- More than 315 Management Companies and Funds.
Since the introduction of the Directive for the Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Register of Crypto Assets Services Providers) (“the Register”) in 2021, the CySEC has granted 5 Crypto Asset Services Providers licenses in the second half of 2022. It is anticipated that more license approvals will follow in 2023.
Notably, prominent companies like Binance, Etoro, and Revolut have obtained CASP licenses, establishing Cyprus as a “crypto-friendly” country.
The regulatory framework includes rules, inter alia, in relation to:
- The fitness and probity of the CASP beneficiaries and persons holding a management position;
- The conditions in relation to CASPs registration;
- The organizational and operational requirements;
- Preforming Know Your Client and other client due diligence measures;
- Drawing the economic profile of clients or users;
- Identifying the source of client funds;
- Monitoring the clients’ transactions;
- Identifying and reporting suspicious transactions;
- Undertaking a comprehensive risk assessment in relation to clients’ activities and take proportionate measures per client, activity and crypto-asset in question.
Obtain a CASP License in Cyprus
There are 3 essential steps to prepare for obtaining a license as CASP:
Collecting preliminary set of the documents from the Client side:
- A business model of the company (brief description 1-2 A4 pages)
- Preferred company name must be provided
- Filled customer profile(s) from all the participants of the project are collected (KYC forms)
- Valid international passport, which bears a photograph
- Utility bill (up to 6 months old e.g., electricity, gas, water and land line, but not mobile line)
- Budgets and scope of the project are discussed
- Signing of the engagement letter between the Client and Y. Vasiliou & Co LLC (Vasiliou Law)
The registration process of the Cyprus company takes usually up to 10 working days, counted from the day of submission to the company’s registrar. The Board of Directors of the CASP license applicant must have at least 4 (four) members, with at least 2 (two) being executive directors and at least 2 (two) being independent non-executive directors. The directors must be approved by the CySEC on their knowledge and experience in the field and must satisfy the fit and proper test of the CySEC.
The CASP will require further staff employment to fulfil the requirements. The following functions must be considered: back office operations, accounting, internal audit, compliance function and risk management. Some of these functions can be outsourced and/or combined.
- Prepare business plan with assistance from Vasiliou Law. The business plan must be prepared by the applicant: forecasted development of the financial sizes in the balance sheet, the statement of profit and loss and the cash flow statement for the first three financial years, based on three alternative scenarios, sources of income, markets in which the applicant intends on operating in, forecasted composition of the applicant’s customers.
- Develop Anti-money laundering and terrorist financing Manual and Program of Operations.
- You will be presented with a list of 30-40 questions to identify risk appetites, the geography of the customers, nature of the business etc.
- Based on the questionnaire, the main set of the AML Framework policy documentation will be prepared by Vasiliou Law (adaption of customer due diligence measures, implementations of sanctions requirements, collecting and storing of data, principles of verification, implementation of transaction monitoring, training program etc.)
- Search for and secure rental premises.
- Search for rent premises based on your preferences (size, cost, location, infrastructure).
- Contacting landlords and concluding a lease agreement directly with the established company.
- Select and integrate software solutions for identity verification and transaction monitoring.
- Assisting in selecting (a) provider(s) for the identity verification and transaction monitoring compliant with Cyprus AML legislation.
- Providing legal and operational assistance in setting up the selected software solutions until finalization of the integration of the provider.
- Recruit a Money Laundering Compliance Officer (MLCO).
- Search for a candidate who meets regulatory requirements and the expectation of the project. Potential candidates will be pre-selected and interviewed.
- Notify authorities of MLCO appointment.
- Provide and configure access for the MLCO to the FIUs’ local reporting system for the reporting of suspicious actives and transactions.
- Arrange direct employment relations between the company and the MLCO (preparing employment agreement, registering MLCO with local authorities for employment).
- Prepare organizational and group structure charts.
- Complete license application forms and questionnaires.
- Collect required documentation for individuals and legal entities involved.
- Collect various documentation for all natural persons who complete the forms/questionnaires to include:
- Certified ID or passport copies
- Non-Criminal Records
- A CV together with certified copies of relevant certificates & sources of references
- Evidence of the assessment made by an authority and its outcome, if applicable
- Collect various documentation for all legal entities who complete the forms/questionnaires:
- Non-Bankruptcy/Good standing
- Evidence of the assessment made by an authority and its outcome, if applicable
- Full set of Corporate Documents for the applicant and other legal entities involved (e.g. shareholding company)
- Collect documentation concerning the financial position of applicant and tax return
- Required for all natural persons/legal persons who complete the forms/questionnaires and are shareholders/ultimate beneficial owners
- Documentation concerning the capital raised and evidence of paid-up share capital and other types of capital raised (if applicable) for the applicant company