How to Start with a Cryptocurrency Business in Estonia

11 June 2018

In Companio, we are convinced that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology will shape the world of tomorrow.

However, it is still a new area, sometimes seen with suspicion by the traditional business and financial world.

This article explains how to start a cryptocurrency company in Estonia, the advantages, requirements, and associated problems. If you are thinking of starting a cryptocurrency business, keep reading!

The problem with cryptocurrency startups

Although bitcoin and blockchain technology is becoming more mainstream, even appearing in the news regularly, it is still an obscure topic for the general public.

In general, cryptocurrency and blockchain startups face a lack of knowledge from most of the population and a great distrust of the traditional financial sector.

Of course, all translate to a poor understanding from government and official institutions and poor legislation frameworks that act defensively rather than trying to understand and regulate the technology and its possibilities.

But undoubtedly, the biggest obstacle to overcome by crypto companies is opening a bank account. Banks traditionally considered cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology -with bitcoin in front- enemies.

How to Start with Cryptocurrency in Estonia.

So why Estonia?

✅ Your company will be in a respectable European country, not in a shady tax heaven like Gibraltar or Bermudas. Estonia is one of the most friendly countries in the world for crypto and blockchain companies. However, it is also a respectable country in the European Union.

In Estonia, they are pioneers in the e-Residency program, which allows anyone to open and run a European company completely online. This is an important factor, especially for startups that are just in the beginning.

✅ Their entire digital administration works on blockchain technology -the so-called X-Road- and the country even considered implementing a national cryptocurrency, the Estcoin. Unfortunately, due to pressures from the rest of the eurozone, Estonia was forced to reconsider its proposal.

In contrast, most other European governments don’t even know the meaning of the word blockchain.

Finally, Estonia grants specific licenses for your company to work with cryptocurrencies, make changes between fiat and cryptocurrencies, or act as a wallet for your clients.

The only difficulties your company may face will come from external entities -such as banks– rather than the Estonian government and legislation.

Let’s see all the factors you must consider before you start your cryptocurrency business in Estonia.

Registering Your Company

There are no extra requisites to create a company that will serve as the legal framework for a cryptocurrency startup in Estonia.

The registration process is similar to other companies. The authorities may require more information regarding the activity of your company, and the Estonian financial unit (FIU) may ask for additional information and some more paperwork, but in Companio, we’ll take care of that for you.

Crypto companies must also do accountancy, tax, and VAT reports like any other company. The Estonian Financial Unit specifically describes how a company operating with cryptocurrencies is subject to the accounting rules and taxes like any other company.

That said, it is true that you will be subject to more regulations in certain aspects due to the special nature of your activity. Also, your accountancy will be, of course, a lot more difficult and require an accountant that’s specialized in this area.

The Estonian financial unit (FIU) can also request regular reports on your activity. This includes accounting, accounts, taxes, and so on. As in everything, if you have nothing to hide and your activity is completely legal, this is just a mere bureaucratic procedure.

How to Start with Cryptocurrency in Estonia

Bank account

The bank account is one of the biggest obstacles when opening your cryptocurrency startup in Estonia and elsewhere, for that matter.

It might seem that the best option would be one of the most well-known fintech solutions for e-residents such as Wise.

Surprisingly, the opposite happens. This is because these fintech solutions are subject to stricter controls and, therefore, greater limitations regarding the types of customers and businesses they can accept.

Interestingly, some traditional banks, considered natural enemies of the new digital currencies, are also among the ones that might open a bank account for your company. However, it’s not easy, the success rate is quite low, and the fees are quite high.

It is important to be clear that, as of today, it is impossible to guarantee 100% that any traditional bank will open a bank account for your company. You might even need to try some alternatives. As with everything, it requires some work and some patience.

Although in Companio we are not a banking solution or offer banking services, we have professionals who can help you open your bank account. While we cannot guarantee a successful opening in all cases, we have an 80% success rate in opening traditional bank accounts for our customers.

Fortunately, there are banking solutions from other countries willing to open a bank account for your company. How? Read on…

The Alternative Banking Solutions

If opening a traditional account is impossible, there are alternative solutions that you can consider to start operating, at least until your business has more presence and you can explore other possibilities.

These solutions are found mostly in Lithuania. Why?

Lithuania’s banks support entrepreneurs, startups, and companies developing and working with cryptocurrencies and similar technologies. Their government also encouraged the development of this financial activity with specific laws to support it.

One of these solutions is Mister Tango. Mister Tango provides your company with a bank account complete with IBAN, Swift/BIC code and a debit card like other fintech solutions.

These solutions work just like most other digital banking providers like the ones we explain in this article. Although they are not bank accounts in the traditional sense of the word, they give you an international IBAN number, plus a Swift / BIC code, allowing you can operate perfectly.

This includes receiving income from your customers, making payments, etc. A credit or debit card is also usually offered for your company.

What documents do I need to open an account with such solutions?

Being in another country -meaning, different from Estonia- you will need a couple of documents to open your account, in addition to the AML and KYC policy:

  • Company registration entry document (Extract from the Registry) with an apostille.
  • Articles of Association with an apostille.

You can obtain all these documents online from the Estonian business registration portal by simply identifying yourself with your e-Resident card. But they will need to be translated by a sworn translator and certified with an apostille.

At Companio, we have the know-how and professionals to provide you with the necessary information to open a bank account to start with your cryptocurrency company.

Crypto Trader and Crypto Wallet Licenses

This article discusses the crypto trader and crypto wallet licenses granted by the Estonian government. With them, your startup can trade between fiat money and cryptocurrency, or serve as a wallet for your users or customers, respectively.

What are the requisites? Generally speaking, the Estonian authorities will require:

  • Criminal records of all members of the company (shareholders, members of the board of directors, directors, etc.).
  • Copies of the passports of all the members.
  • The AML rules (Anti-Money Laundering) and your company’s KYC document (Know Your Customer).
  • Optionally, the Estonian authorities can request the curriculum vitae of all the members and a document or dossier specifying the company’s activities in detail.

The requirements of the documents are the following ones:

  • They must be in English, Russian, or Estonian.
  • They must also have been issued less than three months ago.
  • Finally, all documents submitted must have the Hague’s apostille. What’s that? The apostille is a stamp verifying the validity of an official document from any European country -and others- in Europe.

The application usually takes about 30 days to be reviewed. Then, if there are no additional information requirements, it is granted or rejected.

Although you can apply for both licenses yourself online, it is a complicated process that requires a lot of documentation and usually constant communication with the Estonian FIU unit of the police. In Companio, we have experts who can help you guarantee the success of your application.

Questions to consider when starting your cryptocurrency business in Estonia

If you have decided to found your blockchain startup in Estonia, have an ICO planned, or want to launch a crypto-trading exchange, here are some important reminders to keep in mind:

⚠️ The first thing is to be aware of is that the bank account is always the most problematic step. Our experts can help you get a bank account in a traditional bank, but keep in mind that the success is not guaranteed and that they charge high fees, so consider alternatives like MisterTango.

⚠️ If you have not already done so, you have to prepare the AML (Anti money-laundering) and KYC (Know your customer) documents for your company or startup.

These documents are important to give credibility and seriousness to your project, especially to banks and potential investors in the future.

⚠️ Finally, you need to consider that your company will need to do its accountancy like any other company. This implies having sales invoices and purchase invoices with the corresponding value in euros, so they can be added to the ledger and included in your bookkeeping records.

So even if you accept payments in Ethereum or exchange dollars for bitcoin, the invoices and fees you apply to your customers should include the corresponding value in Euros and all the usual accounting terms.

This may require some work, especially to automate your invoicing process, but it is a future investment to ensure that your startup, despite building the economy of the future, complies with the strictest legality in the present.

Conclusion

The Baltic country offers one of the most friendly frameworks for entrepreneurs and startups working with cryptocurrencies or blockchain technology.

However, there are some issues that you should consider, such as opening a bank account or obtaining the appropriate licenses. The odds are in your favor with good planning and having the documents in order.

At Companio, we believe that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will play a decisive role in the future, and we want to help entrepreneurs like you make your dreams come true. It is still a new world with many challenges, but it is people like you who will help us all overcome the obstacles of the present to make a better world for all tomorrow.

Learn more about how we can help you here.