A Look at Europe’s Security Token Legislation
Europe continues to see more counties taking a pro-crypto stance. Countries such as the UK, Switzerland, and Malta, have already made huge strides towards furthering their respective positions in the market. While there are many contributing factors behind these moves, the introduction of security tokens has played a huge roll in these countries decision.
Security tokens allow for the digitization of traditional investments. This method is called tokenization. Tokenized assets are considered more stable than traditional cryptocurrencies by most countries. Currently, security tokens fall under the EU's MiFIDII regulations.
The EU instituted MiFID II regulations on January 3, 2018. This legislative framework provides investors with added protections. Additionally, MiFID II regulations improve the functionality and efficiency of the market. The legislation is a follow up to the original MiFID (Markets in Financial Directive) regulations which have been in operation since November 2007.
The sixth smallest country in the world, Liechtenstein continues to develop their blockchain sector at an impressive rate. Despite being only 62 square miles in total, this tiny country ranks among the highest in terms of GDP per capita. In October 2018, the country released a public draft titled the “National Blockchain Act.”
The document highlighted the counties desire to further their blockchain aspirations. The move was quickly followed by an announcement by the country's Union Bank AG. Here, the bank described their intention to be the first regulated bank issuing a security token. The bank looks to create a token for interbank activities such as transferring large amounts of funds internationally.
Germany does not consider cryptocurrencies as financial instruments. In September 2018, the country determined that Bitcoin traders don't need any licensing and that trading cryptocurrency should remain legal. This was a major ruling in favor of crypto investors. This ruling meant that crypto investors did not need to adhere to Germany's securities regulations.
In December 2018, Germany's second largest stock exchange announced plans to launch a crypto token exchange. The Boerse Stuttgart Group partnered with the local Fintech firm SolarisBank to make the project a reality. The exchange's release date is Q3 2019. According to developers, a variety of cryptocurrencies including utility, security, and exchange tokens will be hosted.
Switzerland has long been a financial epicenter in Europe. Swiss officials are keen on extending their financial influence into the blockchain sector. The country recently opened a blockchain business sector dubbed the Crypto Valley. Here, blockchain startups receive reduced taxes and other benefits provided by the Swiss government.
Aside from financial benefits, Swiss-based blockchain firms benefit greatly from the country's clear cut blockchain regulations. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) breaks tokens into four distinct categories. These categories include asset, payment, utility, and hybrid tokens.
Estonia was among the first EU members to legalize crypto activities. The country already approved over 900 crypto licenses since changing regulations last year. Those licensed include a variety of crypto businesses such as exchanges, startups, and blockchain tech firms. Around 400 of the licenses issued belonged to crypto wallet providers according to recent reports.
Estonia managed to go from the poorest country in the EU to a thriving economy through a combination of factors. Tax incentives, a friendly business environment, and easy licensing procedures all contributed to the country's rise in the blockchain sector. Today, Estonia is one of the most STO friendly countries in the world.
Malta continues to be a driving crypto force in the region. This country took the crypto reigns through a combination of factors. Malta was the first country in the world to provide a solid regulatory framework for crypto investors and ICOs. The government is pro-active in recruiting new startups to their market.
Today, Malta is one of the best locations in the world to launch your STO. The country already is home to numerous large crypto platforms. The worlds largest crypto exchange by volume, Binance, partnered with the Maltese Stock Exchange (MSX) in September of last year. The two plan to build a new security token exchange within the country in the coming months.
The UK currently does not have crypto regulations in place. The country continues to research the cryptomarket with regulators claiming that it could be years before proper regulatory guidelines can be developed. In March 2018, the countries Crypto assets Taskforce issued a report in which cryptocurrencies were listed in three distinct classes. These classes include security tokens, utility tokens, and exchange tokens.
Currently, the UK crypto debate continues. The British Business Federation Authority (BBFA) released a report in which they detailed how bad regulations would hinder growth in the sector much more than “no regulations at all.” As it stands today, the UK has a strong blockchain community with analysts predicting future growth in this sector.
France took a much different approach regarding cryptocurrency firms. The Authorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) released ICO guidelines last year. The new regulations require all ICOs to provide full transparency regarding their offerings. Companies must define their tokens use prior to approval. This demand is required so that officials can determine what type of token the company plans to issue.
France's stance on ICOs is mimicked by a plethora of other countries around the globe. By making all ICOs operate in full disclosure, the country managed to simultaneously welcome STOs while reducing the number of ICOs in operation. STOs provide a much safer way for investors to participate in blockchain fundraising raising campaigns.
EU Security Tokens are On the Rise
Now that you have a better understanding of the cryptocurrency regulations currently under development in Europe, it's easy to see why countries like Malta have invested so much into their blockchain sector.
As the global economy continues along the path of digitization, there is much to be gained for the country able to become the epicenter of this technological revolution. Hopefully, more countries around the globe will realize the importance of these developments and how they affect the future of global economics in major ways. For now, the race is on to see which European country is able to take the lead in the blockchain economy.