As the whole world is struggling to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and the consecutive economic fallout, the Croatian banking and financial sector has introduced a number of measures to alleviate the pressure on struggling companies as well as citizens affected by the crisis. The Croatian National Bank has taken several actions with the purpose of increasing the liquidity of the financial system and provided additional liquidity for commercial banks, which have also introduced their own measures.
This article provides an overview of banking regulation in Croatia, including which authorities govern banking regulation and what the central bank's role is therein, the type of licence required to conduct banking services and what the application process is like, the forms of bank which can operate in Croatia and how are they regulated and how the Croatian regulatory regime distinguishes between different forms of bank.
Since its adoption, the Act on Nullity has caused controversy, with some Croatian scholars and judges expressing their concern about (for example) its constitutionality and contravention of EU law. While most judicial decisions made after the act's enactment have declared loan agreements which fall within the act's scope null and void, some Croatian courts have interpreted the act differently due to its ambiguity.
The Croatian Tax Authority has issued several relevant opinions regarding the taxation of virtual currencies. Since 2015 the Croatian Tax Authority, in line with the European Court of Justice's Skatteverket decision, has exempted virtual currency exchange services from value added tax, established relevant tax treatments for the mining and trading of virtual currencies and provided its opinion on payments in virtual currencies.
Virtual currencies and attempts to categorise them have attracted widespread attention. For virtual currencies to be considered electronic money under the Electronic Money Act, they must follow certain rules, including being stored electronically, representing a monetary value and being issued on receipt of funds. However, the Croatian National Bank has warned that trading and paying in virtual currencies cannot be considered payment services under the Payment System Act.
The current Act on Preventing Anti-money Laundering (AML) and Financing Terrorism does not regulate crypto-assets. However, the proposed new bill on Preventing AML and Financing Terrorism intends to regulate crypto-assets and require legal and natural persons providing exchange services for virtual and fiduciary currencies or wallet custodial services to comply therewith.
The Act on Nullity of Loans with an International Element Concluded in the Republic of Croatia was created following a period of time wherein certain foreign credit unions continually granted loans to Croatian borrowers. As a result, some consumer organisations pushed to have such loans annulled in order to stop the ongoing enforcement procedures over Croatian borrowers' assets. However, concerns over the act have been raised, including the fact that it is unconstitutional and contravenes EU law.
The EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2) aims to enhance competition in otherwise traditional and closed industries. A draft of the new Payment System Act, transposing PSD2, was recently released for public consultation. The draft defines the information that banks must forward to third parties for each category of payment services and sets limits on forwarding more information than is expressly requested from a bank.