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Best jurisdictions to set up an E-Money License in 2023


There are two main types of financial institutions: Authorised Payment Institutions (APIs) and E-money Institutions (EMIs). When applying for a licence, it is crucial to grasp the distinction between these institutions and determine which one is suitable for your needs.


An EMI, or Electronic Money Institution, licence permits businesses to issue electronic money and provide payment services. This licence empowers businesses to function as financial institutions, facilitating electronic payment options for their customers.

On the other hand, PIs (Payment Institutions) are not authorised to issue e-money. The ability to issue e-money serves as the key difference between an Electronic Money Institution and a Payment Institution. Due to this distinction, PIs and EMIs adopt different business models as a result of the contrasting legal treatment of payment accounts provided by each institution.


This article focuses specifically on EMI licensing and the best jurisdictions to obtain an EMI lisence in 2023.


Governments have implemented laws and regulations to safeguard consumers due to the potential risks associated with the provision of financial services. As a result, companies wishing to offer financial services are required to meet the specific standards established by the respective governments in the regions where they intend to operate.

The regulatory body responsible for issuing EMI licences varies depending on the jurisdiction where the business is established. It is crucial for businesses to research and comply with the specific requirements set by the regulatory bodies in their chosen jurisdiction to ensure a successful application process.


While the concept of consumer protection through regulations is commendable, obtaining the required licences can pose significant challenges for companies in practice. The process of applying for a licence can be time-consuming, expensive, and demanding, and there is no assurance of a successful application outcome.


Nevertheless there are numerous benefits of obtaining an EMI licence:

  1. Cost-Effective Payment Solutions: EMI licence holders can provide their customers with cost-effective payment options, facilitating the transfer of funds domestically or internationally at a low cost.

  2. Customer Trust: Possessing an EMI licence instills confidence in customers as it assures them that their funds are secure and protected. This fosters increased customer trust and loyalty towards the licensed institution.

  3. Flexibility: EMI licence holders have the advantage of offering customers a wide range of payment options, including online payments, mobile payments, and e-wallets, thereby catering to diverse preferences and enhancing convenience.

  4. Regulatory Compliance: Businesses holding an EMI licence must adhere to regulatory requirements, ensuring that their operations are conducted ethically and in compliance with relevant regulations. This not only safeguards the interests of customers but also contributes to the overall stability and integrity of the financial system.

Several jurisdictions are known to be favorable for obtaining an EMI licence. These include:

  1. Malta: Malta, as an EU member state, boasts a robust financial sector. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) is responsible for issuing EMI licences in the country. Malta is renowned for its supportive approach towards businesses in the financial industry.

  2. Cyprus: Cyprus is another jurisdiction that offers attractive conditions for acquiring an EMI licence. It provides a conducive environment for businesses in the financial sector, facilitating their operations effectively.

  3. Luxembourg: With its strong financial industry, Luxembourg is an appealing choice for obtaining an EMI licence. The country's regulatory framework and infrastructure are well-developed, ensuring a favorable environment for financial institutions.

  4. United Kingdom: The UK is a popular jurisdiction for EMI licence applicants. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the regulatory body responsible for issuing EMI licences in the UK. The country's comprehensive regulatory framework and established financial system make it an attractive destination for businesses seeking an EMI licence.

  5. Lithuania: Lithuania, as an EU member state, offers a business-friendly environment and has a positive reputation in the financial sector. The Central Bank of Lithuania oversees the issuance of EMI licences in the country and is known for its efficient application process.

  6. Netherlands: De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), the Dutch regulator, stands out as one of the most proactive entities within the European Economic Area (EEA) when it comes to issuing licences for payment institutions (PI) and e-money institutions (EMI). Unlike many European jurisdictions where obtaining a licence typically takes between 12 to 15 months, the Dutch regulator, De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), excels in issuing licences at a faster pace.


Malta:


Malta was among the first EU nations to set EMI regulations. It has established itself as a leader in technology regulation and fintech, being the first country to implement specialised legal frameworks for DLT (Blockchain) and crypto assets. Malta offers numerous advantages to EMIs, including a high level of political and economic stability. The country boasts excellent telecom and IT infrastructure, ensuring exceptional levels of accessibility and consistency. Moreover, Malta's early adoption of laws pertaining to cryptocurrencies and other financial services contributes to its appeal. Significantly, as a member of the European Union, Malta grants EMIs based there the privilege of passporting, enabling them to offer services across the entire EU.


Activities allowed under a Malta EMI Licence:

  • Issuance of e-money and provision of payment services, including cash placement and withdrawals, money transfers, direct debits, payment card processing, credit transfers, and more.

  • Issuing and acquiring payment instruments, money remittance, payment initiation services, account information assistance, and related ancillary services.

  • Other business activities regulated under applicable law.

Benefits of setting up an EMI in Malta:

  • Political and economic stability, excellent telecom and IT infrastructure, and high accessibility.

  • Early implementation of laws related to cryptocurrencies and financial services.

  • Passporting rights to offer services throughout the EU.

  • Approachable and innovative regulator, strong tax efficiency, and extensive tax treaties.

  • Developed FinTech industry and lower operating costs compared to other EU countries.

  • Reliable technical infrastructure and availability of foreign financial service providers

  • Use of English in all official correspondence and financial services laws.

Luxembourg:


In Luxembourg, obtaining a payment institution licence encompasses a wide range of services. This includes offering payment infrastructure to users as well as facilitating payment transactions between individuals. The scope of services also extends to activities such as automatic currency conversion at retail outlets and processing of e-form gift cards or discount vouchers. The licensing framework in Luxembourg ensures that e-payment providers adhere to the necessary regulations and operate within the prescribed legal framework.


Benefits of setting up an EMI in Luxembourg:

  • Recognition in all EU jurisdictions through passporting.

  • Access to SEPA for licensed EMIs.

  • Strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

  • Business-friendly environment, well-developed infrastructure, and low taxes.

  • EU membership with access to the single market and freedom of movement.

  • Low operating costs and access to a skilled workforce.


Cyprus:


An Electronic Money Institution (EMI) in Cyprus is licensed by the Central Bank of Cyprus and has the authority to issue electronic money. EMIs offer fully digital and remote banking solutions, providing round-the-clock access to accounts and banking services for clients worldwide. With an EMI licence obtained in Cyprus, companies can operate across the European Economic Area (EEA) through passporting, without the need for additional licensing procedures in other member states.

Cyprus is an attractive destination for establishing an EMI, as the licence is recognised throughout the EEA, the licence can be obtained in as little as three months, and the minimum initial capital requirement is EUR 350,000.


Additionally, Cyprus offers a favorable tax regime, with net profits from EMI activities subject to a low corporate tax rate of 12.5%. EMIs provide innovative and flexible alternatives to traditional banks, making it an opportune time for individuals and businesses to establish an EMI in Cyprus.


Reasons to set up an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) in Cyprus:

  • Recognition in all EU jurisdictions through the passporting system.

  • Access to provide payment services within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

  • Strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

  • Business-friendly environment, well-developed infrastructure, and low taxes.

  • EU membership with access to the single market and freedom of movement.

  • Low operating costs and access to a skilled workforce.


It's important to note that the financial landscape is continuously evolving. The recent approval of the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA) by the EU Parliament highlights the need for crypto platforms operating in the EU to stay informed about the changing regulatory landscape. For a thorough analysis of options and more information, contact SAXE Global team, who can provide expert guidance and assistance.

As the financial industry continues to adapt, it's crucial to stay informed and seek professional advice to navigate the complexities of obtaining an EMI licenсe and complying with regulations. SAXE Global team can assist you in finding the best option based on your specific needs and ensure you have a clear understanding of the regulatory landscape to operate successfully in the market.


Book a free consultation with SAXE Global here

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