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The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) issued a Fact Sheet on Bitcoins

11. Juli 2014

On June 25 the FINMA issued a Fact Sheet to clarify some regulatory questions on Bitcoins. The content can be summarized as follows:

  • At the moment the Swiss law contains no specific provisions on virtual currencies, though depending on the business model a license from FINMA could be required.
  • The good news is that  Bitcoins as a payment method for goods and services is not regulated in Switzerland and therefore legal.
  • But some activities are subject to regulations. For the purchase and sale of Bitcoins on a commercial basis is a license from FINMA needed.
  • Peer to peer (P2P) businesses such as P2P trade platforms, exchanges and brokers (without holding fiat money/Bitcoins for clients) or operating ATM’s are subject to Switzerland’s Anti-Money-Laundering Act (GwG and GwV-FINMA). According to FINMA these are treated as a Financial Intermediary. A Financial Intermediary can either become a member of a self-regulatory organization (SRO) or apply for a license to operate as directly supervised Financial Intermediary (DSFI).To my knowledge  only one Bitcoin related company in Switzerland has done this yet and became a member of an SRO and is now allowed to operate Bitcoins ATM’s in Switzerland.
  • As soon as a company allows clients on a commercial basis to deposit fiat money or Bitcoins a full banking license is needed. This means that FINMA will monitor the company on an ongoing basis to ensure that it complies with the relevant regulations, especially in relation to capital adequacy requirements. It also means that much more capital is needed to start in the first place. For example an exchange platform like Bitstamp would need a banking license to operate from Switzerland.


The FINMA isn’t against virtual currencies but virtual currency related companies have to comply with Swiss Law and FINMA as every other Financial Intermediary.

From → Fintech

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