FCA UK – Brexit Countdown

FCA UK – Brexit Countdown for UK financial services sector
 

Issued on 24 December 2020 

With one week to go until the end of the Brexit transition period, the FCA is urging financial services companies to ensure they are ready. Customers should also be aware of any changes that may apply to them. Irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations between the UK and the EU on a free trade agreement, firms will need to be prepared for the end of the transition period.

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CySEC – Circular 418

CySEC – Circular 418

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a Circular 418 on 27th of November 2020, with subject of (Enhancement of procedures regarding safeguarding of client funds held by CIFs)

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FCA UK – Cutover plan for firms migrating to FCA FIRDS and FITRS after the Brexit transition period

FCA UK – Cutover plan for firms migrating to FCA FIRDS and FITRS after the Brexit transition period
 

At the end of the transition period on 31 December, the EU Securities & Markets Authority (ESMA) will switch off the FCA’s access to 2 key systems that are needed to operate the MiFID regime. 

The FCA has built equivalent systems for UK MiFID reporting – the FCA Financial Instruments Transparency System (FCA FITRS) and FCA Financial Instruments Reference Data System (FCA FIRDS).

Firms can currently use these systems for testing, however both systems will be unavailable from 16 December 2020 until 2 January 2021 while they rebuild their data.

Find out more about the cutover plan for FCA FIRDS and FCA FITRS.

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FSA Seychelles – Circular No 13 of 2020

FSA Seychelles – Circular No 13 of 2020  

 

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) of Seychelles has issued the Circular No 13 on the 13th of October 2020, with subject of (Acceptance of digitally signed documents) and the aim of notifying all stakeholders of the Financial Services Authority’s (“the Authority”) acceptance of electronic documents that have been digitally signed, in accordance with the Seychelles’ legislations.

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CySEC – Circular 419

CySEC – Circular 419 – Regulation (EU) No 2017/2402

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a Circular 419 on 2nd of December 2020, with subject of (Regulation (EU) No 2017/2402 on creating a single framework for simple, transparent and standarised securitisation), which relates to the following Regulated Entities:

  1. Cyprus Investment Firms (CIFs)
  2. Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFMs)
  3. UCITS and UCITS management companies
  4. Third party certification service providers
  5. Securitisation Special Purpose Entities (SSPEs)1

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CySEC – Circular 416

CySEC – Circular 416 

 

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a Circular 416 on 10th of November 2020, with subject of (Business relationship with persons who have acquired Cypriot citizenship under the Cyprus Investment Program (CIP)), which relates to the following Regulated Entities: 

  1. CIFs
  2. ASPs
  3. UCITS Management Companies
  4. Internally managed UCITS
  5. AIFMs
  6. Internally managed AIFs
  7. Internally managed AIFLNPs
  8. Companies with sole purpose the management of AIFLNPs

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CySEC – Circular 410

CySEC – Circular 410

 

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a Circular 410 on 26th of October 2020, with subject of (Information to be submitted on the basis of the ESAs Joint Guidelines on Cooperation and Information Exchange between the Supervisory Authorities of Credit and Financial Institutions – (the ‘’AML / CFT Colleges Guidelines”)), which relates to the following Regulated Entities: 

  1. Cyprus Investment Firms (‘CIFs’)
  2. Branches of Investment Firms, located in Cyprus, where their head office is situated in another Member State or in a third country
  3. Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (‘UCITS’)
  4. UCITS Management Companies (‘UCITS MC’)
  5. Alternative Investment Fund Managers (‘AlFMs’)
  6. Alternative Investment Funds (‘AIFs’)
  7. Alternative Investment Funds with a Limited Number of Persons (‘AIFLNPs’)
  8. Companies with sole purpose the management of AIFLNPs

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TOP 5 Countries for Offshore Banking

TOP 5 Countries for Offshore Banking

People will offer a lot of different advices when it comes to the best offshore bank accounts. The perfect banking country for one person or company might not be the best fit for another. Our list is based on some countries that offshore investors keep talking about:
CAYMAN ISLANDS

CAYMAN ISLANDS - Best Country for Tax benefits

With their high reputation as an ideal country for offshore banking, the islands are considered and known as Tax haven, this term defines a country when it offers to businesses and foreign individuals a minimal tax liability. With a political and economic stable environment, with no taxes on capital gains, corporations, withholding, property, payroll, or income. No exchange control, allowing free fund transfers into and out of the Islands in any currency and their strong regulatory framework for their offshore banking services.

SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Best Country for the Wealthy

Singapore has it’s reputation as a stable, safe place to store assets, with their strict regulations in their banking sector and their cutting edge technology allowing for safety and as well an easy access to your assets. Accounts available from a range of trading platforms in many currencies reducing high exchange rates and offering a variety of wealth management services, funds, brokerage houses and accounts to manage your money as well.

SWITZERLAND - Best Country for Asset Protection

Switzerland due its country’s strict privacy laws, forbidding bankers by the Swiss law any disclosure of any information related to your account without your consent, bankers breaking this law can face up to 6 months in prison and followed by a fine of 50,000 swiss francs, gained its high reputation for offshore Banking and trusted asset protection. Switzerland’s has stable political and economic climates . The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) as of 2004 revised the Depositor’s Protection Agreement, which guarantees that in the event of bank failure depositors will still receive their legally privileged claims.

GERMANY

GERMANY - Best Country for Safety

Germany being another country in the list with a stable economic environment brings its popularity from offering payments, also being a known source for savings, checking and custody accounts. In most cases, you don’t need to be present to open an account in Germany, offering to account holders access to advanced online and ATM services, 24/7. Additionally some banks also give the option of getting a Visa or Master Card as well with fairly low maintenance costs while opening an account.

BELIZE

BELIZE - Best Country for High Interest Rates

Belize might not have a 20% interest like some other countries, but it has a real interest of about 2,54% and an inflation rate of close to 0% (2019 as per Trading Economics). Offering a variety of currencies to choose from and the exchange rate between Belize and US is 2:1. Plus, known for upholding the privacy of their clients, with the benefits for their International client accounts not being subject to local taxes or exchange control restrictions.

Some additional information to keep in mind when opening an Offshore account, are that you will be asked the Basic Requirement similar to opening an account to your home country. Even with the strongest privacy laws you will be asked for your personal information: your name, date of birth, address, citizenship and occupation. Because it’s essential when setting up your account for the bank to be able to verify your identity. Most of the Banks and Institutions following their anti-money laundering regulations will ask you about the nature of transactions passed through accounts, some financial reference documents from your current bank, a copy of your driver’s license and/or passport and proof of address. All the countries mentioned have their own distinguish benefits with many options to choose from. Find out which country fits best for your needs.
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ICO Consulting Services

ICO Consulting Services

Introduction to ICO Consulting Services

The blockchain industry has been one of the most disruptive industries in finance in the past decade. Today, the industry has been embraced by large companies like IBM, Microsoft, Square and Robinhood. Many governments like Russia, China, and Iran are spending money to make developments based on the industry. In 2019, cryptocurrencies were the best-performing asset classes. The same is true with the past decade. Investors who invested in Bitcoin early on have seen returns north of 1000%.

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have also become a popular tool for blockchain developers to raise money. In this article, we will look at the ICO process and what ICO Consulting Services is.

What is Blockchain?

The blockchain industry has been one of the most disruptive industries in the past decade. Today, companies like IBM are developing blockchain tools that help global companies ship goods in a simplified manner. 

What is a blockchain technology? The blockchain is a technology that allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. It is said to be a “time-stamped series of immutable records that is managed by a series of computers that are not owned by anyone.” The technology can help people and companies do things faster and safer.

There are many things that can be done using the blockchain technology. Cryptocurrencies is one of them.

What is a Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies have become the biggest products of the blockchain technology. As of this writing, all cryptocurrencies have a market value of more than $201 billion. To put this into perspective, these currencies are worth more money than General Electric, Twitter, and Target combined. 

Cryptocurrencies can be traced to 2008, when the world underwent the biggest financial crisis in our time. This crisis was caused by financial companies that rushed to give out subprime mortgages to millions of Americans. A subprime mortgage is one that is given to people who can’t pay it back.

Banks gave out these mortgages and then created financial products known as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and mortgage backed securities (MBS). All this led to a sharp increase in housing prices. In 2008, some of the banks that had given out these loans started reporting huge default rates. Ultimately, this led to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns. Other companies like AIG and General Motors had to be rescued by American taxpayers.

In the aftermath of this crisis, the level of distrust of government and government agencies was very high. People watched in anger as government bailed out the same Wall Street firms that had caused the crisis.

At the same time, a person or team, calling itself Satoshi Nakamoto, published the Bitcoin white paper. They proposed a digital currency based on the blockchain technology. Unlike fiat currencies, bitcoin would be an independent currency that is controlled by no one. It would also be difficult to track this currency, which means that it would promote privacy.

Bitcoin did not become popular instantly. It became more popular when it was adapted by dark web marketplaces like Silk Road. To many Silk Road traders, Bitcoin was the currency of choice because it allowed anonymous transactions. 

Today, Bitcoin is one of the thousands of other cryptocurrencies in the market. These currencies come in all formats. For example, Ripple is a cryptocurrency that aims to simplify money remittances while Ethereum is used in smart contracts. 

What is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)?

The introduction of cryptocurrencies led to another important phenomenon that was known as an Initial Coin Offering. The ICO is a process that is aimed at removing the bottlenecks that exist in raising money. Before ICOs, the default method of raising money from the public was the initial public offering (IPO). In an IPO, companies publish their documents and then go in a roadshow to attract investors. The company then trades in an exchange, where buyers and sellers can trade these shares. 

There are many challenges to IPOs. First, the company needs to be an established brand. Second, the IPO is limited to a certain geographical border. Third, regulators have put in place many regulations that in most cases prevent companies from being public.

An Initial Coin Offering is a process that aims to remove these bottlenecks. An ICO is a process in which developers come up with projects and raise money from people in all countries. Today, some of the most successful blockchain projects started as an ICO.

Initial Public Offering vs Initial Coin Offering

There are several differences between an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and an Initial Public Offering (IPO). First, IPO is mostly done by companies that are already doing business. Some of the biggest IPOs in history are those of companies like Saudi Aramco, Alibaba, Facebook, and Royal Bank of Scotland. A company that is raising money using an ICO does not need to be in operation. In fact, most ICOs are usually based on ideas. 

Second, the IPO process is a long one and tends to include many banks, who act as underwriters. There are other consultants like lawyers that are needed to carry out the IPO. ICOs are different. All one needs is an idea, a white paper, and a marketing budget. One can start and complete the ICO process within a few days. Still, it is recommended that you use ICO consulting Services to have a successful fundraising.

Third, IPOs are mostly national in nature. For example, it is very difficult for a retail investor in India to participate in an American IPO. On the other hand, ICOs are global events. Anyone can easily buy a stake in an ICO.

Fourth, IPOs are highly-regulated industries. In the United States, the securities and exchange commission (SEC) is tasked with overseeing the IPO process. The ICO industry is not regulated. This is the main reason why there are a lot of ICO scams. 

In addition, in an IPO, the holders benefit when the share price moves up. As the company grows, the investors start making money using dividends. There are no dividends in an ICO. 

Another difference between an IPO and an ICO is that companies are mandated by law to disclose many things to shareholders. For example, when the CEO buys or sells shares, they are required by law to disclose these issues. This is different for ICOs. The company founders are not obligated to release any information to investors.

Finally, in an IPO, companies are required to announce their revenue numbers every quarter. This does not apply in an ICO.

How an ICO Works

In the previous part, we have looked at what an ICO is. We have also looked at how it differs from an initial public offering. In this part, we will look at how an ICO works.

A business idea

All ICOs start with a business idea. The developer studies the market and identifies a gap. They then come up with a method of solving this idea. It is important for you to consider whether the idea is viable or not. It is also important to see other companies that are in the industry and find gaps. It is important to note that there are some companies that are already in business that may opt to use an ICO instead of an IPO.

An ICO whitepaper

After coming up with an idea, you need to decide whether you want to do an ICO or fund the company yourself. If you decide to take the route of an ICO, you need to do a whitepaper.

What is an ICO whitepaper? An ICO whitepaper is a comprehensive document where you discuss the business that you are starting, the market you are targeting, and the strategy you want to use. The whitepaper can be compared to the form S1, that companies submit to the SEC before they become publicly listed.

The ICO whitepaper has a number of sections:

  • Abstract – This section summarizes your project.
  • Problem – This section describes the problem you are solving.
  • Solution – You describe the solution that you are offering.
  • Roadmap – Here, you provide a roadmap that you plan to use.
  • Funds required – You provide a budget of the funds you need and how you plan to use it.
  • Market analysis – You showcase that you have done enough research about the idea you are raising.
  • Go-to-Market strategy – You write about your market strategy.
  • Team – You show the team members and their biographies.

We recommend that you use a good ICO consulting services provider to come up with the whitepaper. A good example of a simple yet very effective whitepaper was published by Facebook, when it unveiled Libra. You can get the Libra whitepaper here.

An ICO Website

After coming up with an ICO white paper, it is now important that you have an ICO website. This is a website that you will use to market and promote your project. Ideally, the ICO website should be designed well. It should also have a number of qualities such as:

  • It should be eye-catching.
  • It should be simple to navigate.
  • It should have good graphics, including videos. 
  • It should be responsive. This means that it should be easy to navigate on all devices.
  • An ICO website should be fast and secure.
  • An ICO website should have a good way to checkout.
  • An ICO website should be optimized for the search engines.
  • Show urgency – The website should show urgency by having a ticking clock that shows when the ICO will expire. 

A good and well-qualified ICO consulting services provider should be used to help you come up with such a website.

Marketing the ICO

After coming up with a good ICO white paper and a good ICO website, it is now important that you market it. The best way of marketing an ICO is using search engine optimization. This process is important because Google does not support ICO marketing. Instead, it is recommended that you use a good ICO consulting services provider, who will come up with a good strategy for marketing the ICO. Some of the best ways of marketing the ICO are:

  • Guest posting – This is a process where the company writes guest posts in highly-trafficked websites.
  • Content marketing – This is a process where the ICO team uses content to reach out to more people.
  • Sponsored content – This is a process where the ICO team comes up with sponsored content in highly-trafficked websites.
  • Sponsored ads – This is where the ICO team places ads directly to websites that are highly-trafficked.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – This is a process in which the ICO consulting services use search engine optimization to promote the ICO.

Launch the ICO

After you raise money, you need to list your ICO in one of the popular exchanges. Your investors can now buy and sell the tokens in the open market.

Develop the Product

After you raise money, you need to go ahead and develop the product. It is recommended that you continue updating the ICO holders of the progress that you are making. 

What is ICO Consulting Services or Blockchain Consulting Service?

The ICO industry has become one of the biggest in the blockchain industry. This is because of the vast amount of money that companies have raised using ICOs. 

It is estimated that thousands of ICOs are launched every month. Unfortunately, only a few ICOs become successful. Part of the reason why many ICOs don’t succeed is that their founders don’t use the services of professionals. This is where ICO consulting services or blockchain consulting services come in. These are companies that help people carry out the ICO process successfully. Here are some of the most important services that are offered by ICO consulting services:

 

  • Market research – The consultants conduct a thorough market research on the viability of a project.
  • ICO whitepaper writing – ICO consulting services come up with quality whitepapers for companies launching their ICOs. 
  • ICO marketing services – ICO consultants understand the best practices of marketing an ICO. They help come up with a solid marketing strategy and implement it well.
  • ICO launching – These companies help to launch an ICO to the general market.
  • Company registration – ICO consulting services help to register companies in European and offshore jurisdictions.

Biggest ICOs in History

In the past few years, the total number of companies that have launched their ICOs has been increasing. In total, ICOs have raised more than $10 billion from global investors. Here are the biggest ICOs in the recent history.

  • Telegram – Telegram is a privacy-focused application that has hundreds of millions of users. The company raised more than $1.7 billion in an ICO.
  • EOS – EOS launched its ICO and raised more than $4 billion. This is a bigger valuation than Box and Stitch Fix.
  • Petro – This is an ICO that was offered by the Venezuelan government. It raised almost $700 million.
  • Filecoin – This was an ICO that raised more than $200 million.

ICO Scams

The initial coin offering has been associated with scam. This is the main reason why companies like Facebook and Google announced that they would stop advertising these services. It has been reported that many people have lost billions of dollars through initial coin offerings. 

Indeed, many of the companies mentioned above have been linked to scams. EOS was recently forced by the SEC to pay a $24 million fine for deceiving investors. Filecoin, which raised more than $200 million has been linked to crime. Telegram also found itself in trouble with the SEC. 

However, not all ICOs are scams. The reality is that scams happen even in the most regulated industries. For example, a company like Enron became one of the biggest energy companies in the world. It was overseen by the SEC. The same is true with companies like Lehman Brothers and Stanford Financial Group. Investors lost billions of dollars when these companies went under.

As an investor, you need to ensure that you do a lot of due diligence when you are investing in an ICO. There are some basic things that you can do to stay safe when investing in an ICO.

  • Do a reverse image search of the team members
  • Read the whitepaper and see whether there are any facts.
  • Research on the main claims. 
  • Reverse image search of the images on the ICO document.
  • Research on the team members. 
  • Research on the domain registration of the company.
  • Use an ICO consulting services to know whether the ICO is genuine.

What Regulators are Saying About ICOs

Regulators around the world were unprepared for the new age of blockchain technology. They are still unprepared for an industry that promises to upend the way the world operates. Generally, regulators such as the SEC and Finra have warned that there are risks of investing in ICOs. However, they have not come up with regulations that are meant to ban these ICOs.

GFSC Global Blockchain Consulting Services 

At GFSC Global, we are the leading blockchain or ICO consulting service in the world. We have a team of veteran consultants and lawyers who have been in the industry for decades. We help our blockchain customers in a number of ways. We help them create intuitive and user-friendly websites, have quality whitepapers, market their services, have a virtual office, have a bank account in the European Union, and have all tools they need to launch their ICOs. 

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The Fifth Money Laundering Directive and legal Compliance


The Fifth Money Laundering Directive and legal Compliance

10th of January 2020 is the date the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) will become law within the European Union.

5AMLD is intended to built on the 4AMLD’s attack on financial crime by boosting existing transparency rules. As a result, those working in financial services will have to meet new requirements as 5AMLD targets areas that have so far not felt the force of previous directives.

For the first time, cryptocurrencies will face regulation that was applied to more traditional financial institutions under 4AMLD. Cryptocurrency exchanges will now have to perform customer due diligence and submit suspicious activity reports (SARS).

5AMLD stretches out to one thing: know your business. The EU wants its latest directive to face the fight to money laundering.

Under 5AMLD, EU member states must establish a national register of beneficial ownership information that covers businesses, trusts and even those possessing safe-deposit boxes. The information on each member’s register should be available to share with other members and the records are required to cover anyone who has a 25% or greater stake in a company.

5AMLD also requires those in business to carry out what amounts to due diligence on countries. Failing to meet the requirements of such obligations can mean, based on the 5AMLD, fines up to a maximum of €5 million or 10% of annual turnover.

Therefore, the right controls, procedures and enhanced levels of staff awareness are essential. Not meeting those expectations would be very costly.

Source: lawyer-monthly.com