Estonia is a country known within the crypto sector as a very crypto-friendly country. Companies can establish themselves there and without too much effort a virtual asset service provider (VASP). But now the financial regulator in the country suddenly wants all these permits move in to start regulating all over again.
“Turn back regulation to zero and start licensing from scratch,” was the message from Mati Mäeker, head of the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). According to him, citizens are not aware enough of the dangers lurking in crypto. He also refers to illegal practices such as money laundering and terrorist financing. “Those risks are very, very high and we need to act quickly and appropriately,” Mäeker said.
The head of the Estonian Financial Supervisor proposes, among other things, stricter capital requirements. For example, he wants crypto companies in the country to set aside at least €350,000 for any emergency scenarios. Now that minimum is only €12,000. Companies should also be obliged to have better IT solutions.
That Estonia is an attractive country for crypto companies in the European Union is immediately clear when we look at the numbers. As many as 400 companies have a VASP license in Estonia. That is more than all other EU countries combined. “These companies turn over huge amounts, but Estonia itself is left with nothing,” says Mäeker.
Estonia already started cracking down on crypto companies in 2020. It discovered a whopping $220 billion in black money. The country’s financial regulator at the time decided to revoke the licenses of more than 500 crypto companies. A total of 1,808 permits were revoked in 2020.
Crypto companies in the Netherlands must apply for a license from De Nederlandsche Bank. The requirements to get this permit are quite strict. The Dutch Bitonic won a lawsuit from DNB in May this year, which made the requirements less strict.