Brandl & Talos has recently achieved a positive guidance from the Austrian Financial Markets Authority for its client Coinfinity GmbH, an Austrian start-up active in the Bitcoin sector. Binder Grosswang advised Coinfinity on sales tax issues.
Coinfinity, which is located in Graz, operates the first Bitcoin ATM in Austria and offers the sale of Bitcoin via more than 600 retail shops selling vouchers.The virtual currency can be exchanged for 25, 50, or 100 Euros. Customers receive a voucher that can be converted into Bitcoin through a website.The price for the digital currency depends on supply and demand, which may be subject to fluctuation.
Brandl & Talos formally requested guidance from the FMA on behalf of its client to determine whether there was any obligation to obtain a concession under Austrian legislation and provided the authority with a legal opinion on Coinfinity's activities (sale of Bitcoin via the Internet, via a Bitcoin ATM, and via retail shops selling vouchers). The FMA provided a decision stating that these activities do not trigger the requirement of a concession for banking, payment services, or the issuance of e-money. According to a Brandl & Talos statement, “while the FMA's decision is binding only for Coinfinity, it is of great value to the entire Bitcoin industry and is an important step towards making Austria an attractive market for innovative cryptocurrency business models."
Arthur Stadler, attorney at Brandl & Talos who led the firm’s team on the matter, explained that: "This recent clarifying statement of the FMA resolved a set of uncertainties regarding banking and regulatory matters and cleared the way for Bitcoin business models. We expect a significant increase of innovative products in connection with the virtual currency and the Bitcoin network protocol."
In addition to Stadler, the team at Brandl & Talos advising on all regulatory matters, including on banking, payment and e-money services included Nicholas Aquilina and Raphael Toman.
The Binder Grosswang team representing Coinfinity on sales tax issues was led by Partner Christian Wimpissinger, assisted by Associate Walter Loukota.
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