Italian Ministry Of Economy And Finance Establishing Rules For Virtual Currency Companies

In light of anti-money laundering efforts, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance is turning its attention toward virtual currency businesses. A draft decree lays out comprehensive registration and reporting requirements.

  • On February 2, 2018, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) published a draft of a ministerial decree on the regulation of virtual currency-related service providers. Comments were gathered during a two-week public consultation period, which ended February 16, 2018.

    The new set of rules, which details registration and reporting requirements for Italian virtual currency firms, will reportedly be implemented within three months of the decree’s adoption. The draft decree also mentions the cooperative relationship between the MEF and police forces to address non-compliant virtual currency firms.

    As defined in the decree, virtual currency is “the digital representation of value, not issued by a central bank.” The broad directive would apply to virtual currency service providers (e.g., exchanges and lenders), and also includes “commercial operators that accept virtual currency as [payment] for … goods and services or other utilities.”

    The MEF explains that the purpose of the decree is to determine the scope of virtual currency firms operating in Italy and ensure their registration through the Organismo Agenti e Mediatori (OAM).

    Those virtual currency service providers already operating in Italy will have 60 days to register and provide necessary documentation to the MEF. It appears that new virtual currency service providers will be required to notify the MEF of their intentions immediately.

    Information required by the MEF includes:

    It should be noted that the “PEC” address refers to certified electronic mail.

    It’s unclear exactly when the decree goes into effect. However, the MEF’s work on virtual currency is a significant step toward regulation. An Italian cryptocurrency exchange, BitGrail, recently lost 17 million Nano tokens, the current market value of which is approximately $130 million. Shortly thereafter, the European Supervisory Authorities issued a warning about the dangers of virtual currency ownership.

    Quotes translated from Italian using Google Translate.

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