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Cryptocurrency Regulation in Germany: An Overview

Solidus Labs
October 31, 2023

As cryptocurrencies continue to gain traction globally, the regulatory landscape surrounding these digital assets is also evolving. In Germany, Europe's largest economy, cryptocurrencies are gaining wider traction with firms like DLT Finance offering a wide variety of regulated digital asset services, including brokerage, trading, custody, staking, and CeFi-DeFi bridging.

 In this blog, we analyze how the country’s regulators and laws have addressed cryptocurrency thus far – and what lies ahead with MiCA.

Germany’s Crypto Regulatory Framework

National Regulations

In Germany, cryptocurrencies are classified as financial instruments or assets, making them subject to laws related to securities, commodities and investments. Germany has proactively regulated cryptocurrencies, enacting a law in 2020 that mandates all cryptocurrency exchanges operating within its borders to obtain a license from the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).

BaFin plays a pivotal role in the German crypto environment, overseeing the regulation of its markets, including cryptocurrency exchanges, brokers, and custodians.

European Union Regulations

The European Parliament passed the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulatory framework in April 2023. This framework aims to protect investors and foster financial stability, and it is expected to enter into force by the summer of 2024. MiCA sets forth specific rules and licensing requirements for virtual currency exchanges, custodial wallet providers, and other entities. To learn more about MiCA’s licensing requirements, watch our webinar “Mastering MiCA: A Roadmap for Crypto Service Providers.”

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Regulations

Germany has clear AML regulations that are applicable to cryptocurrency exchanges and service providers. These providers must implement Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures and monitor transactions to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. They are also mandated to report suspicious activity to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) via BaFin’s Suspicious Transaction Reporting System.

The German Money Laundering Act (GwG) and the Regulation on Enhanced Duties of Care concerning the Transfer of Crypto Assets (KryptoWTransferV) are crucial for AML compliance. Additionally, the European Union’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) necessitates providers to register and conduct due diligence on their customers.

Trading and Other Financial Activities

Cryptocurrency exchanges in Germany offer various trading options such as spot trading, futures trading, and options trading. All exchanges operating in Germany must be licensed by BaFin and comply with AML and KYC regulations. Activities like custody, borrowing/lending, and yield/staking also come under financial services regulation. 

The Future of Crypto Regulation in Germany

With an evolving regulatory framework overseen by key institutions like BaFin, Germany aims to strike a balance between consumer protection and innovation. It’s also home to a vibrant ecosystem of compliant crypto market participants – as evidenced by the success of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management’s annual Crypto Assets Conference, at which Solidus co-founder and CXO Chen Arad was recently featured. As we look to the future, the continued collaboration between Germany’s national regulators, the European Union’s standard-setters, and German crypto business promises an exciting and secure path for German crypto markets going forward.

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