DLT and cryptocurrencies
FinTechs belonging to this category offer financial services using crypto currencies. This category also includes FinTechs utilising blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) upon which Bitcoin and Ethereum are based, among others. FinTechs develop and do research in this field in order to create new services – e.g. crypto currency exchange markets, wallet providers, NFTs-related services, new payment services, "smart contracts" or new clearing and settling services.
Attitude of the country towards financial services using crypto currencies
The regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and other digital assets is set out in the Law on Digital Assets (“LDA”), which started to apply as of 29 June 2021.
LDA regulates in detail issuance, trading and exchange of the cryptocurrencies and other digital assets and provision of services connected to cryptocurrencies and other digital assets in Serbia. However, as the LDA does not provide for a clear guidance, assessment on whether certain activity connected with the digital asset is taking place in Serbia should be made on a case-by-case basis.
Following adoption of the LDA, Serbia became an interesting market for foreign entities involved in issuing and provision of services in relation to cryptocurrencies. Additionally, it seems that interest of Serbian residents in investing in cryptocurrencies is also increasing. Sale and purchase of cryptocurrencies is also possible through automatic crypto exchanges. At the moment, however, direct purchase of goods or services with the cryptocurrency is not allowed under the LDA. Instead, the purchase may be made through the exchange services provider that accepts cryptocurrency from the purchaser, exchanges it for fiat currency and then transfers fiat currency to the account of the merchant.
Obligations and requirements to provide financial services using crypto currencies described above
Under the LDA services connected with digital assets (including cryptocurrency) may be provided in Serbia only by the locally licensed entities. Therefore, cross-border provision of services is not allowed, nor is it possible to apply for a “passport” of a foreign license in Serbia. The LDA contains a broad list of services connected with the digital assets, as follows:
receipt, transfer and execution of orders related to the purchase and sale of digital assets for the account of third parties; services of purchase and sale of digital assets for cash and/or funds on the account and/or electronic money; digital asset exchange services for other digital assets;
storage and administration of digital assets for the account of users of digital assets and related services; services related to the issuance, offer and sale of digital property, with the obligation to purchase it (sponsorship) or without that obligation (agency); keeping a register of liens on digital property; digital property acceptance/transfer services; digital asset portfolio management; and organizing a platform for trading digital assets.
The supervisory authority over the LDA is divided between the NBS and the SEC, i.e., the NBS oversees virtual currency, and the SEC supervises digital tokens and digital assets with the characteristics of the financial instruments. In case a digital asset has characteristics of both the virtual currency and digital token, the supervision is shared between the NBS and the SEC. Therefore, depending on the type of underlying asset to which the service is provided, the relevant request for license is submitted to the NBS or the SEC or both of them in case of digital assets of hybrid nature.
Under the LDA, the minimum capital for provision of services connected with the digital assets ranges from EUR 20,000 to EUR 125,000, depending on the type of service provided.
Additional comments regarding the legal situation for financial services using crypto currencies or what FinTech’s must be aware of in this business area
Market size for financial services using crypto currencies and biggest companies in this business area
At the moment, no local license is issued in relation to these services. However, there is evident increase in interest of foreign service providers to provide services connected with digital assets in Serbia which requires a local license. Data on revenues, transactions, and users in this regard is not publicly available.
Additional comments regarding the economic situation for financial services using crypto currencies or what FinTech’s must be aware of in this business area