FINMA licensing

December 8, 2022

Switzerland has the status of one of the most prestigious financial hubs in the world. The brilliant reputation of the country is backed by efficient and transparent regulation of the financial sector following which both individuals and legal entities looking to provide services associated with it must apply for a FINMA license. Generally, authorization is required not only by financial organizations but also by those acting in recently emerged fields that have been charging the traditional ones, namely Fintech and crypto-assets.

Who is subject to FINMA authorization?

The approvals issued by FINMA to both local and foreign businesspersons, executing various financial activities are divided into five categories:

  • licensing;
  • authorizing;
  • registering;
  • recognizing;
  • approving.

Among the individuals and legal entities that fall under FINMA remit are as follows:

  • banks;
  • non-banking organizations operating in the field of finances, among which fund administration forms and securities firms;
  • insurances;
  • mutual investment funds;
  • infrastructures in the market of finances;
  • portfolio administrators and trustees.
  • Fintech and cryptocurrency firms (these were included in the mandatory list most recently)

Terms and conditions for applying for a FINMA license

In 2020, FINMA has adopted new obligations for those having an interest in acquiring formal authorizations to offer a number of financial services. They are targeted to the below-listed service providers:

  • managers of mutual assets;
  • portfolio managers;
  • fund administration firms and securities firms;
  • trustees.

In line with the new legislation, portfolio management and trustee firms must now run their operations under a legit framework, provided that at least one of the below-listed criteria is satisfied:

  • an entity’s annual gross income is more than 50,000 CHF;
  • an entity has a minimum of twenty customers per year for whom it does not provide the same offer;
  • an entity fully manages assets worth at least 5,000,000 CHF at a specific time during the year.

Foreign businesspersons must acquire a license, provided that they are already running operations in other jurisdictions, and have other approvals for their activities or recognition of their licenses got elsewhere.

The obligations for getting various classes of FINMA licenses are subject to the operations of the business looking to obtain them. For instance, banking and insurance organizations fall under stringent capital conditions, they must provide a specific documentation pack, whilst for portfolio management and trustee firms, the key term is guaranteeing the safety of the assets kept in custody.

Acquiring a FINMA Fintech license

It is worth mentioning that the field of Fintech is one of the most popular sectors at the moment and in Swiss jurisdiction, it features well-established regulative mechanisms. As for now, a crypto or Fintech authorization can encompass activities in the segment:

  • Fintech;
  • exchange;
  • investment fund;
  • banking.

To acquire a FINMA Fintech license, a company must fit a minimal share capital requirement which is 100,000 CHF. Another obligation in the respect of Fintech businesses is that they can take deposits to form clients with a maximum value of 100,000,000 CHF. Normally, the process of licensing takes approximately 4 months.

If you are interested in setting up a business in the Switzerland and applying for a FINMA license, the lawyers of ELI Swiss are at your service. Feel free to reach out to us for assistance in establishing such a company.

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