Austria has no domestic legislation that directly applies to virtual currencies, although operations using cryptocurrencies may fall under existing laws. For instance, platforms for purchasing crypto assets which settle payments in euros require a licence under the Payment Services Act 2018. Purely technical services would not be covered by these licensing requirements, but would most likely be captured by the requirement for a general trade licence necessary for carrying on a trade in Austria.
The Supreme Court recently extended the scope of the sections of the Consumer Protection Act that protect consumers that accede to a third party's obligation without any economic interest of their own. Although the Supreme Court returned the case to the first-instance court, the guidelines drawn up in this decision will apply to any type of collateral provided in similar situations for the account of a consumer.
The Supreme Court recently confirmed the admissibility and validity of qualified subordination agreements included in general terms and conditions and with respect to consumer transactions. Further, the Supreme Court held that qualified subordination agreements – in particular, those relating to loan agreements – create a specific type of contract. This decision has a significant impact on standard bank loan transactions, especially in restructuring situations.
The Supreme Court recently clarified its position on sureties payable on first demand and confirmed its view on the interpretation of contractual undertakings by which one party assumes a personal liability for a third-party debt. Considering the significant different legal consequences for a beneficiary's position following a qualification as either an abstract guarantee or an accessory surety, the guidelines provided by the court are of the utmost importance.
The Supreme Court recently rendered its first judgment on the admissibility of the use of electronic mailboxes, which are exclusively incorporated and only accessible via the e-banking system of a credit institution for serving client account notices and statements to consumers. This ruling will significantly affect Austrian banking practice.
Since its election, the current government has enthusiastically embraced the fintech sector and the potential that it offers and has repeatedly expressed its intention for Bermuda to be a significant centre for this industry. In furtherance of this goal, a significant part of the government's legislative programme for 2018 has been, among other things, the implementation of a comprehensive regulatory regime. The central pillar of this regime is the Digital Asset Business Act, which came into force on 10 September 2018.
The National Monetary Council recently issued Resolution 4,656, regulating credit fintech companies. The resolution will allow direct credit companies and interpersonal loan companies to conduct loan and financial operations through electronic platforms. Although it is still uncertain how the market will react to the new rules, the industry is optimistic, considering the significant developments in this area that have been observed in other markets.
The Administrative Council for Economic Defence (CADE) and the Central Bank recently entered into a memorandum of understanding. This initiative strengthens the relationship between the two authorities and promotes greater cooperation among them for the analysis of merger cases and anti-competitive practices by financial institutions. It also represents an important step forward, signalling the end to the longstanding dispute between CADE and the Central Bank over jurisdictional conflicts.
Interest in the setting up and distribution of initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore locations has increased rapidly during 2017, and this is expected to continue. No ICO or blockchain-specific rules or guidelines have yet been issued by the government or regulator; however, there are several important issues for parties in the British Virgin Islands to consider, including the key laws and regulations surrounding the issue.
It seems that 2017 will be remembered as the year of the initial coin offering (ICO). The Cayman Islands is witnessing an upsurge in ICO-related business and structuring an ICO through the territory remains an attractive proposition. However, ICO-specific guidance is yet to be issued by the government or the regulator, and a number of legal uncertainties remain. Existing statutory and regulatory regimes must therefore be considered when structuring an ICO.