In Italy the activity performed by operators of virtual currencies and digital wallet services are ruled by a Decree issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance on 13rd January 2022.
Virtual currency: is the digital representation of value, not issued or guaranteed by a central bank or public authority, not necessarily linked to a legal currency, used as a mean of exchange for the purchase of goods and services or for purposes of investment and transferred, stored and traded electronically.
Digital wallet services providers: they are, i.e. any natural persons or entities who provides, to third parties, in a professional capacity, including online, private cryptographic key safeguarding services on behalf of its customers, to hold, store and transfer currencies virtual.
In Italy only operators authorized by OAM (Organismo Agenti e Mediatori) can perform services concerning the use of virtual currency and digital wallet services, otherwise, they are considered abusive.
OAM is the association of operators of virtual currencies in Italy which:
- releases the license within 15 days to applicants for performing the activity of virtual currencies operators and digital wallet service providers;
- supervises that the requirements of operators are kept during the time.
Foreign companies (also EU companies) has to do application to OAM for the release of the license, there are a lot of requirements, the main are:
- incorporation of a SpA or SRL or SRLS limited company or of a branch (filiale);
- the director of the SpA or SRL or SRLS or branch can be a person even if not resident in Italy if he/she:
· is citizen or resident in an EU country + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, UK (independently of the citizenship if only resident);
· is citizen of countries which have signed Bilateral Investment Treaty with Italy, they are: Albania, Algeria, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaigian, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Camerun, Ciad, Cile, Cina, Congo, Corea del sud, Croazia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egitto, Emirati Arabi Uniti, Eritrea, Estonia, Etiopia, Filippine, Gabon, Georgia, Jamaica, Giordan, Guatemala, Guinea, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakistan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Libano, Libia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambico, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Perù, Poland, Qatar, Dominican Republic, South Africa, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Syria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uganda, Hungary, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia;
- some chambers of commerce in Italy (which keep the management of the register of companies) ask also for the appointement of a domicile (not a residence) in Italy of the director, the domicile can be appointed at the accountant address or at a virtual office address);
in case the director is not resident or citizen of a country enlisted afore, he/she has to be resident in Italy;
- payment to OAM of a one shot tax of € 8,300 for legal entites;
- or payment of a one shot tax of € 500 for individuals;
- payment of a yearly tax pro-rated to the dimension of the activity;
- submission to OAM of several documents demonstrating the possess of requirements: personal ID or data of the applicant entity by a certificate of its own chamber of commerce and of its legal representative, certified email, indication about the methods of carrying out the service (by physical points, ATMs, web addresses ) and a business plan;
- the application for registration to OAM has to be done using the private area of OAM portal;
- if the requested documentation is not received by OAM or is insufficient to overcome the critical issues encountered, it denies registration in the special section of the register or can suspend the deadline once for maximum 10 days, giving timely and reasoned communication to the interested party;
- in case of refusal to register, the interested party can still submit a subsequent registration request;
- after OAM has accepted the application, the applicant has to fill the registration on OAM’s portal www.organismo-am.it then user will have its own private area, with reserved access with a password, he will be able to use the telematic services made available by OAM;
- registered operators must transmit to OAM, electronically, the data relating to operations carried out on the territory of the Italian Republic, the transmission of the data must be carried out on a quarterly basis, by the 15th of the month following the reference quarter;
- in paticular, have to be transmitted customer's identification data: surname and name, place and date of birth, residence, tax code/VAT number, ID card, where assigned and details of the identification document, summary data on overall operations in Italy for each single customer (such as: equivalent value in Euros, on the last day of the reference quarter, of the total balance of legal currencies and virtual currencies referable to each customer; number of conversion operations).
OAM, upon request, is required to provide the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Financial Information Unit for Italy, the Financial Police and the National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Directorate with any information and documentation held by virtue of the management of the special section of the Register, including data relating to the customers of operators who have carried out operations in Italy.
Every six months OAM transmits to the Ministry of Economy a report with the data relating to the number of service providers relating to the use of virtual currency and digital wallet services already registered and also those subjects who have not integrated the communication as requested; the report specifies the type of services carried out by the providers, the cases found of abusive exercise of the activity.
OAM has the powers of suspension and cancellation of operators, in particular, it provides for suspension, for no less than three months and no more than one year, from the register in case of violation of the obligation to communicate quarterly data.
Cancellation is foreseen for: loss of one of the requirements required for carrying out the activity; repeated violation of the data reporting obligation; inactivity lasting more than a year unless proven reasons; cessation of activity.