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Despite the delay on the regulatory front, several banks have perfected plans on incorporating cryptocurrency assets into their offering.
Spanish banks are exploring the possibility of offering crypto-assets directly to their customers. However, with the October 29 registry deadline fast approaching, many banks remain unsure if they need to apply again. This is due to the unclear stance of the central bank on the subject.
Recall that the Bank of Spain in June stated it will provide directives for banks that wish to provide crypto services. This is in tandem with the regulation mandating the Bank of Spain must compile a list of virtual asset service providers and custody companies. However, since making that announcement, the apex bank has yet to release the necessary paperwork.
Banks Already in Compliance with Money Laundering Directives
With no clear direction on the right course of action, some of the larger banks have engaged their compliance departments to find out if they need registration to offer crypto services.
Certain experts are of the opinion that banks shouldn’t need to apply afresh. This, they assert is because they already comply with past anti-money laundering directives. Speaking on the subject, Gloria Hernández Aler, Partner at Finreg, stated:
“It would not make sense for a bank to have to go through the requirements imposed by the standard.”
Further, she stated that it was proper for the financial institutions to notify the regulators. She said that “it does make sense for them (the banks) to notify that they are going to provide this type of service.” According to her, this is necessary so that adaptations could be made to the anti-money laundering policy as may be required for the uniqueness of digital assets.
Growing Interest of Spanish Banks in Crypto Assets
Despite the delay on the regulatory front, several banks have perfected plans on incorporating cryptocurrency assets into their offering. For example, the BBVA recently established a commercial crypto asset in Switzerland. The commercial asset holder offers both exchange and custody services. Likewise, Caixabank is starting a pilot test program alongside Onyze. However, there is no timeline as to when this pilot will be available to the general public.
With such growing interest, the need for regulations guiding the system increases to protect citizens who delve into the asset. Additionally, the regulation will protect against scammers and fraudsters who may want to take advantage of the system.
Meanwhile, the European cryptocurrency regulatory framework is still under development. It is expected to be available for release in early 2022.