Establishing a VASP under the VAITOS Act in Mauritius in 2023
Mauritius is renowned as a flourishing international financial centre and growing FinTech hub. It stands out among the leading nations in the Eastern and Southern African regions by implementing comprehensive legislation concerning Virtual Assets (VA) and Initial Token Offerings (ITO). This was accomplished through the enactment of the Virtual Asset and Initial Token Offering Services (VAITOS) Act in early 2022.
The VAITOS Act empowers the Financial Services Commission (FSC) of Mauritius, to oversee and regulate Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP) and ITO issuers functioning within the non-bank financial services sector in Mauritius. Consequently, any company aiming to engage in VA activities or ITO, either within or from Mauritius, shall require a license from the FSC. Authorised VASP are then required to operate within a robust prudential framework and adhere to sound market conduct guidelines.
In this article, the SALVUS Crypto Assets Licensing team furnishes essential information on the benefits and requirements of obtaining a license under the VAITOS Act in Mauritius. The article is divided into the following sections:
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1. Why establish a VASP in Mauritius?
A VASP operating in Mauritius enjoys the advantage of a strategic time zone facilitating business dealings across four different continents within a single day. Supported by a sophisticated and well-funded banking sector, including both local and international credit institutions, the country offers a comprehensive spectrum of services encompassing corporate banking and custodianship.
Mauritius further boasts a proficient and educated workforce fluent in both English and French, primed to embrace emerging opportunities. Moreover, VASP are provided with numerous options of providers to choose from for the fulfilment of regulatory obligations.
It is noteworthy that the VA and ITO framework in Mauritius largely aligns with the guidelines of Recommendation 15 concerning VA and VASP, introduced by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). This provides VASP established in Mauritius, the credibility and accountability required for the establishment of business relationships across the globe.
2. What is the VAITOS Act?
The VAITOS Act establishes a robust and comprehensive framework for operators navigating the dynamic landscape of fintech in Mauritius. It not only sets a solid foundation but also ensures that the regulatory structure governing this asset class seamlessly aligns with international standards.
This extensive legislation and the rules published thereunder by the FSC, cover a wide array of crucial aspects, inter alia encompassing:
- technical prerequisites,
- governance structures,
- risk management protocols,
- disclosure requirements for VASP, and
- the protection of clients’ rights engaging with VA.
Furthermore, the VAITOS Act is specifically designed to uphold transparency, accuracy, and timeliness in disclosures by ITO issuers. Complementing the VAITOS framework, the FSC Mauritius has also issued numerous rules to further enhance regulatory measures within Mauritius, concerning:
- Capital and other Financial Requirements – stipulating the capital and liquidity requirements that a VASP shall always maintain, based on the nature, scale and complexity of its activities.
- Client Disclosure – specifying the information that shall be communicated to clients in a clear, fair, and non-misleading manner.
- Custody of Client Assets – requiring VASP entities to establish adequate arrangements for the safeguarding of clients’ ownership rights and preventing the use of clients’ virtual assets for own account.
- Cybersecurity – implementing appropriate systems and controls for managing cybersecurity and operational risks, arising from inadequacies or failures in VASP’s processes and systems.
- Publication of Advertisements – outlining the general requirements and standards that advertisements and disclosures need to abide by, to be disseminated to the public.
- Risk Management – employing effective strategies, processes and systems for the ongoing assessment and maintenance of adequate amounts and types of financial and non-financial resources, own funds and unimpaired capital.
- Statutory Returns – specifying the information to be disclosed to the FSC Mauritius, along with requirements for approval of material changes and annual reporting obligations.
- Travel – outlining the information that shall ‘travel’ along with domestic or cross-border wire transfers or when VASP and intermediary VASP send or receive virtual assets. The required information concerns primarily the originator, the beneficiary and transaction specifics.
3. License categories and capital requirements
The FSC Mauritius authorises specific business activities for each class of license. The applicant has the option to apply for and obtain multiple classes of licenses. The table below outlines the business activities permitted under each license class, along with the minimum initial capital requirement.
|Class M – Virtual Asset Broker Dealer
|Any virtual asset service provider that conducts one or both of the following:
• Exchange between virtual assets and fiat currencies,
• Exchange between one or more form of virtual assets.
|2,000,000 MUR or its equivalent in any other fiat currency.
|Class O – Virtual Asset Wallet Services
|• Transfer of virtual assets.
|Sufficient working capital in fiat currency to continue business for a period of 12 months, based on realistic forecasts for the business in different market conditions, both negative and positive scenarios.
|Class R – Virtual Asset Custodian
|• Safekeeping of virtual assets or instruments enabling control over virtual assets.
• Administration of virtual assets or instruments enabling control over virtual assets.
|5,000,000 MUR or its equivalent in any other fiat currency.
|Class I – Virtual Asset Advisory Services
|• Participation in the provision of financial services related to an issuer’s offer and/or sale of virtual assets.
|Sufficient working capital to be capable of meeting debts as they fall due.
|Class S – Virtual Asset Market Place
|• A Virtual Asset Exchange as a centralized or decentralized virtual platform, whether in Mauritius or in another jurisdiction which facilitates the exchange of VA or fiat currency or other VA on behalf of third parties for a fee, a commission, a spread or other benefit and which:
• holds custody, or controls VA, on behalf of its clients to facilitate an exchange, or
• purchases VA from a seller when transactions or bids and offers are matched in order to sell them to a buyer.
|6,500,000 MUR or its equivalent in any other fiat currency.
|Issuers of Initial Token Offerings
|• Issuance of Initial Token Offerings
|Sufficient working capital to be capable of meeting debts as they fall due.
If a VASP opts to apply for and acquire multiple licenses, it will be held accountable to meet the collective capital requirements stipulated for each individual license class it pursues. This means that the VASP must demonstrate the cumulative minimum capital amount mandated for all the classes of licenses it seeks to obtain from the FSC Mauritius.
4. How SALVUS can support your VASP application
The SALVUS Crypto Assets Licensing team adopts a tailored project management approach, recognising the distinct characteristics of each licensing project. Upon understanding your business vision and objectives, we offer a meticulously curated selection of license categories aligned with your business plan.
Leveraging our extensive experience with the FSC Mauritius, we adeptly gather all requisite information and compile comprehensive documentation essential for submitting a robust application. Additionally, we assist our clients in optimising their financial resource allocation by employing a strategic blend of in-house expertise, outsourcing agreements, and collaboration with third-party providers.
Contact us at email@example.com if you are interested in obtaining a VASP license in Mauritius; our Crypto Assets Licensing team is ready to help you.
The information provided in this article is for general information purposes only. You should always seek professional advice suitable to your needs.