Understanding cryptocurrency regulations in Ukraine
In 2018, Ukraine laid the foundation for future crypto regulations with its “Concept of State Policy in the Sphere of Virtual Assets”. This established cryptocurrencies legal status and streamlined oversight procedures. In 2021 draft law further tackled regulatory gaps by systematically addressing taxation, property rights, and licensing for crypto market players.
Presently, Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation, National Bank, and National Securities Commission share regulatory duties for cryptocurrencies. The government plans to consolidate and assign these responsibilities to a single regulatory body that will issue crypto licences.
While cryptocurrencies in Ukraine are not fully regulated yet, recent legislative changes set the stage for legalizing crypto exchanges and integrating digital assets into Ukraine's legal framework, given appropriate tax code expected amendments. For now, Ukraine is taking a gradual approach — improving registration mechanisms for crypto providers while mandating ownership disclosures, security standards, and anti-money laundering precautions.
Those seeking to operate crypto exchanges in Ukraine must closely track ongoing regulatory developments and ensure compliance once finalized regulations are in place.
Assessing available options for crypto licensing in Ukraine
Broadly, cryptocurrency activities are allowed in Ukraine, although explicit regulations are absent. This jurisdiction precludes direct crypto-fiat exchange currently. Interested entrepreneurs can currently choose from two primary paths to establish a compliant crypto exchange in Ukraine:
1. Acquire a regular currency exchange licence domestically in Ukraine.
2. Obtain a crypto licence abroad and then notify Ukraine's Financial Supervision Authority.
The second approach is preferable for its flexibility and broader operating authority. Here is an overview of the typical process:
- Incorporate an exchange company in a selected jurisdiction.
- Open a business account with a bank, providing in-depth investment details.
- Adhere to all regulatory requirements around consumer protections, AML policies, etc. mandated by the licensing country.
- Submit founders' identification documents and backgrounds.
- Appoint personnel and a compliance manager.
- Finally, acquire the crypto exchange licence.
Navigating the cryptocurrency licensing landscape in Europe
As interest in cryptocurrencies continues to grow, many entrepreneurs are considering obtaining a crypto exchange licence to operate legally in Europe. However, the regulatory environment across European countries is complex. We break down the top jurisdictions for crypto businesses.
Malta leads the way
Over the last few years, Malta has emerged as one of the most crypto-friendly European countries. The government has proactively created detailed regulations and guidelines for digital asset businesses, providing much-needed legal clarity in obtaining crypto licences in Malta. Some key benefits for crypto companies in Malta include:
- Clear framework for ICOs, exchanges, and other activities.
- Regulatory support from the Malta Digital Innovation Authority.
- Attractive tax incentives like low corporate tax rates.
For these reasons, Malta is regarded as a pioneering leader that is setting the standard for crypto regulation in Europe.
Estonia’s digital economy focus
Estonia has also taken a stance and made bold legal changes to attract cryptocurrency companies. Notable advantages include:
- Streamlined requirements for obtaining a crypto licence in Estonia.
- Ability for licence holders to apply for Estonian citizenship.
- Minimal capital requirements.
- Passporting rights to provide services across the EU.
The country has also invested heavily in e-residency programs and e-government services, demonstrating its commitment to developing a digital economy.
Switzerland's financial services leadership
Switzerland has a long history of financial services leadership and has carried this forward into the cryptocurrency space. Key features for starting a crypto-related business in Switzerland include:
- Access to Crypto Valley clusters in cantons like Zug.
- Light regulation combined with security for investors.
- Availability of funding from Swiss VCs and investors.
- Highest number of registered crypto companies in Europe.
Switzerland represents an ideal balance between oversight and flexibility for crypto.
The UK remains as a key crypto hub
The United Kingdom has also taken a leading role in regulating cryptocurrency activities. Even after Brexit, the UK has aligned itself closely with EU regulations when it comes to crypto oversight.
Some major advantages for crypto businesses based in the UK include:
- Cryptocurrencies are legally recognized as property under British law.
- Clear definitions provided for major crypto assets like Bitcoin.
- Mandatory AML and KYC rules for exchanges.
- Oversight from the Financial Conduct Authority on consumer protection.
- Passporting rights for compliant exchanges to offer services across the EU.
- Large ecosystem of financial services firms that crypto can integrate with.
While formerly part of the EU, the UK retains the advantage of more flexible corporate regulations. Meanwhile, by upholding securities and wallet regulations, it provides the compliance rigour that banks and investors look for.
This balanced approach makes applying for a British crypto exchange licence highly appealing. It enables exchanges to operate both in the UK and EU markets under a respected regulatory framework. As such, the UK remains a lucrative destination for crypto entrepreneurs.
While obtaining a cryptocurrency licence requires legal analysis on a case-by-case basis, these countries currently provide the most favourable climate in Europe for crypto exchange registration and operation. As the regulatory landscape develops further, we will continue evaluating the best jurisdictions for crypto projects requiring compliance, licensing, and global passporting rights.
Launching a cryptocurrency exchange in Ukraine: Compliance and licensing support
As crypto adoption grows globally, many entrepreneurs in Ukraine wish to establish a compliant digital asset exchange. However, clear regulations are still lacking.
As an alternative pathway, our legal firm assists clients with obtaining overseas cryptocurrency exchange licences that enable operating in Ukraine. We provide guidance across all aspects of the licensing process, including:
- Evaluating appropriate overseas jurisdictions for registration.
- Ensuring compliance with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies.
- Advising on the advantages and limitations of certain locations.
- Providing step-by-step support during the application procedure.
- Helping fulfil ongoing reporting requirements.
Our expertise spans regulations across multiple regions like the EU, UK, Switzerland, and more. By leveraging an overseas licence, cryptocurrency exchanges can work directly with Ukrainian customers under a legitimate, internationally recognized framework.
We understand that regulatory nuances matter tremendously in the crypto sector. That's why our multi-jurisdictional legal team offers dedicated support so that Ukrainian crypto entrepreneurs can focus on building innovative, compliant, global-ready exchanges.
Contact our specialists to begin a consultation around registering your cryptocurrency exchange licence.