Spain Rolls Out Register For Virtual Asset Service Providers

October 28, 2021
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The Bank of Spain has released details of its register for virtual asset service providers, requiring all businesses that provide virtual currency services in the country to register with the central bank.

The Bank of Spain has released details of its register for virtual asset service providers (VASPs), requiring all businesses that provide virtual currency services in the country to register with the central bank.

According to the website of the Virtual Office of the Bank of Spain, all platforms that exchange virtual currency for fiat money or provide custody services for digital currencies in Spain must register with the central bank.

The requirement applies to everyone that offers these services in the country, regardless of the location of the business (i.e., including businesses outside Spain), as well as to those that are based in Spain, regardless of the location of their customers (i.e., including customers outside Spain).

Businesses that apply to the VASP register will have to present an anti-money laundering (AML) programme, a risk assessment analysis and identification documents, including a criminal record certificate of the requesting legal entity and each of the natural persons who run the business.

The central bank issued the registration requirements pursuant to an April royal decree that transposed various EU directives, including the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. It gave the central bank six months, that is until the end of October, to set up the register, and nine months for VASPs to register with the bank.

Failure to register will be considered a very serious infringement and may result in a fine ranging from €150,000 to €10m.

VASPs can now apply to the Bank of Spain, which has three months to conclude its assessment. That period can be suspended in case the bank requests further information from the applicants.

According to Bitcoin News, Spanish banks BBVA and Caixabank have been considering the option of offering cryptocurrency-related services. However, there was uncertainty whether these banks would be required to register with the Bank of Spain, as they already have robust compliance and AML programmes in place.

The central bank has now dispelled the doubts, clarifying that anyone engaged in the provision of virtual asset services has to register with the bank, regardless of whether they are already registered in another capacity.

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