Switzerland seeks to relax anti-money laundering rules for fintechs
29 Aug 2018

Financial technology firms operating in Switzerland will have to adhere to less financial crime controls than other firms under a new regime which seeks to promote financial innovation in the country.

Generally, all financial institutions in Switzerland are subject to due diligence requirements when it comes to combating money laundering.

The financial regulator Finma, however, is proposing that exceptions be made for fintechs ‘as most are likely to be smaller institutions.’

“FINMA proposes to introduce some organisational relaxations for such institutions. These principles will now be set out in the Banking Ordinance,” the watchdog explained.

“One specific relaxation in line with the principle of proportionality will see small institutions, unlike banks, being exempt from the requirement to establish an independent anti-money laundering unit with monitoring duties (Art. 25 AMLO-FINMA). For the purposes of the draft ordinance, “small” institutions are those with gross revenues of less than CHF 1.5 million.”

Finma has launched a consultation into the plans.

The announcement comes almost two months after the Swiss parliament launched a new licensing category, known as the FinTech licence, with the aim of promoting financial market innovation.

This new licensing category under the Banking Act (BA) will apply to institutions which accept public deposits of up to CHF 100 million but which do not invest or pay interest on them.

The Swiss Federal Council aims to implement the partially revised BA with effect from 1 January 2019.

If possible, the amendments to the Finma Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance (AMLO-FINMA) will enter into force at the same time.

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