Swiss Payment License

Swiss authorities are closely monitoring the rapidly-developing FinTech services market and responding promptly to innovations. The legislative framework for regulating the operations of providers, e-money issuers and payment licenses, which are required to obtain a license from the country’s supervisory authority (FINMA), is regularly updated.

A permit is required for FinTech banks, cryptocurrency exchanges and most other organisations operating in the new field.

Features of the Swiss Licensing of Payment licenses

If Swiss companies interact with clients’ money directly, this is treated as banking activity for which an appropriate license is required. Despite the fact that the authorities do not officially recognise e-money as legal instruments of payment, its acceptance and storage is considered as acceptance of deposits. Therefore, according to the country’s regulator, such activities are subject to a banking license. The exception is operations involving client balances, the amount of which does not exceed 3000 Swiss francs, or the use of funds only for payment of goods, without transfer to users.

A payment license in Switzerland is not required if the activity cannot be classified as commercial acceptance of deposits. This is possible where:

  • credit accounts are used exclusively for the settlement of user transactions, and no interest is charged on their balances;
  • the amount accepted does not exceed one million Swiss francs, the total number of deposits is 20, and payments are not used for investments and the owner does not receive interest from them;
  • the operator notifies all clients that the deposits are not controlled by the regulator and are not subject to insurance.

Conditions for the Granting of Licenses

The country’s “full” banking licenses are expensive and difficult to obtain. However, entrepreneurs and startups have a way out. Companies that accept funds in the form of deposits of up to 100 million Swiss francs can obtain a special light permit. For such systems, a start-up capital of 300,000 Swiss francs is sufficient, which significantly lowers the “entry threshold”.

Platforms for virtual funds, including opening accounts and wallets for clients and engaged in electronic transfers are required to comply with the AML and KYC requirements — their compliance is primarily monitored by the relevant authorities. Therefore, to obtain a payment license in Switzerland, service providers must prepare appropriate policies and:

  • establish a “physical” office in the country as well as carry out their main activities in Switzerland;
  • prepare documents describing the business model, client risks associated with using the technology;
  • create conditions for compliance with the GTCS rules on the use of personal data of EU residents;
  • open an account with an EU bank, etc.

Prifinance Expert Support

Prifinance will guide you through all legal procedures within the shortest time possible. Our experts will study your business thoroughly, following which they will develop an optimal organisational scheme and tax model for it. They will do everything to make the payment license start operating legally and effectively.

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