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Spain's Financial Watchdog Flags 18 Firms, Including Crypto Operators, for Licensing Violations

Spain cracks down on unlicensed crypto firms: 18 companies named

Spain's chief financial watchdog, the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), has recently spotlighted a concerning trend: 18 entities, including notable names in the cryptocurrency sector, are operating sans the requisite licensing. In a revealing announcement made on February 26, the CNMV listed companies such as Bitbinx, Crytomerge, and CryptoMaxiTrade, emphasizing the legal oversight. 

The regulator noted: 

"These companies are not registered in the corresponding registry of this Commission and, therefore, are not authorized to provide investment services or other activities subject to the supervision of the CNMV." 

Acknowledging the limitations of its reach, the CNMV has advised investors with grievances to seek redress through the ordinary courts of justice, hinting at the nuanced challenges of regulating an industry that thrives on the edge of traditional financial oversight.

Spain's growing crypto regulation and infrastructure

In 2023, the number of crypto companies officially registered to operate within the country saw an impressive surge, growing by approximately 56%. The official registry, accessible via Spain's central bank website, now lists 83 companies authorized as virtual asset service providers, featuring industry giants like Binance, Bitpanda, Revolut, and Crypto.com. Highlighting this regulatory advancement, the CNMV shared: 

"At publication time, it includes 83 companies, including multinationals like Binance, Bitpanda, Revolut and Crypto.com."

October 2023 marked a vital moment for Spain's crypto industry with the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Digital Transformation's announcement of the accelerated implementation of the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA) — the European Union's first comprehensive crypto framework. 

Spain's prominence is further evidenced by its robust network of cryptocurrency ATMs, ranking fourth globally with 310 operational machines. This places Spain ahead of its European counterparts, notably surpassing Germany and France, and showcases the country's enthusiasm for digital currency accessibility.

The exploration of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) by Spain's central bank signifies a forward-thinking approach to digital finance. January 2024 saw the selection of collaborators for pilot testing a wholesale CBDC.