On Monday, August 26th, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) published new guidance on how Swiss anti-money laundering rules are applied to regulated financial services providers in the area of blockchain technology.
The Swiss regulator is among the first ones to take proactive steps towards effectively regulating the use of blockchain technology in financial services.
More specifically, to counteract the misuse of blockchain technology for money laundering purposes, “institutions supervised by FINMA are only permitted to send tokens to external wallets belonging to their own customers whose identity has already been verified“. As reported by FinTech News Switzerland, “FINMA-supervised institutions are thus not permitted to receive tokens from customers of other institutions or to send tokens to such customers”.
While recognising the innovative potential of new technologies such as blockchain for the financial industry, the Swiss regulator is also keen to apply the relevant provisions of financial market law. Hence ensuring that the identity of customers is verified before utilising blockchain’s extensive capabilities appears to be the key objective of the new guidelines.
The announcement comes two months after the Financial Action Task Force called for member countries to adopt new regulations requiring blockchain and virtual currency companies to verify the identity of their customers.
“FINMA has also issued banking licences to two new blockchain service providers”. This approach appears particularly interesting when analysed as part of the larger global trend regarding virtual and digital banking licences. Only time will tell if the banking space will see the rise of financial service providers primarily utilising blockchain in other leading financial markets.