The expanding world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology is currently a regulatory grey area in many jurisdictions.

However, one critical component gaining recognition and legal oversight is CASP, short for Crypto Asset Service Providers. 

Let’s explore what CASP is and what is its role in the EU’s new crypto regulations.

With the EU’s recent proposal to implement Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulations, it’s crucial to understand the significance and role of CASP in this evolving landscape. 

This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on what CASP means, the potential impact of MiCA regulations on it, and what all this signifies for businesses and consumers alike.

From VASP to CASP: EU’s crypto regulation shift

The term CASP first appeared in 2020, when the draft regulation for MiCA was published. This regulation aimed to establish a consistent legal structure for the governance of virtual assets and cryptocurrencies across the European Union. 

Before this, the cryptocurrency industry commonly used the term VASP, or Virtual Asset Service Provider. This earlier term originated from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its guidelines, which were introduced a few years before CASP.

What is CASP?

A CASP, short for Crypto Asset Service Provider, represents businesses or organizations that offer services related to digital assets like cryptocurrencies. Such services can range from exchange platforms and wallets to financial advice. 

CASP refers to any individual or entity engaged professionally in offering one or more services related to crypto-assets to external clients. 

As per MiCA, CASP activities include: 

  • the custody and administration of crypto assets on behalf of third parties, 
  • the operation of a trading platform for crypto assets, 
  • the exchange of crypto assets for fiat currency that is legal tender,
  • the exchange of crypto assets for other crypto assets, 
  • the execution of orders for crypto-assets on behalf of third parties, 
  • the placing of crypto assets, 
  • the reception and transmission of orders for crypto-assets on behalf of third parties, 
  • providing advice on crypto-assets.

A business is classified as a CASP if it offers any of the following services to individuals residing in Europe:

  • Offering custody and administration of crypto assets on behalf of a third party;
  • Offering a crypto exchange service or running an exchange;
  • Offering crypto advisory services, or information defined as advice on investing in crypto-assets. It does not include portfolio management services.

Virtual Asset Service Provider or Crypto Asset Service Provider?

The term Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP), as defined by FATF, is more commonly used outside of the European Union. The term Crypto Asset Service Provider (CASP) has gained traction within the EU, especially through the MiCA regulation. While VASP and CASP can generally be used interchangeably in casual discussions, it’s crucial to recognize that MiCA’s definition of a CASP is broader than that of the FATF. 

If your business operates in the EU and offers services that fall under MiCA’s definition of crypto services, it will classify as a CASP

Conversely, if your business is located outside the EU, adhering to the FATF’s or your jurisdiction’s definition of a VASP is typically acceptable, even if your services align with MiCA’s criteria. 

MiCA’s framework, specific to the 27 EU member states, applies to various crypto-assets and services. Whereas FATF’s recommendation serves as a guiding principle to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. 

When jurisdictions adopt their definitions, they often tend to be stricter than the FATF to incorporate its recommendations into local laws.

The importance of MiCA Regulations for CASP

To bring stability and standardization to the crypto market, the EU drafted a comprehensive regulatory framework MiCA.

The proposed regulations aim to create a uniform approach to digital assets throughout the EU. It would be instrumental in legitimizing CASP and making the crypto market more transparent, less risky, and potentially more lucrative for all parties involved.

How CASP operations are affected by MiCA?

The proposed MiCA regulations create a level playing field for CASPs across the EU. 

It involves several changes:

  • Licensing and Authorization: All CASPs need to require a license to operate within the EU. This means that existing CASPs need to comply with MiCA regulations to continue operations.
  • Operational Standards: MiCA sets stringent guidelines on how CASPs should conduct business. It includes risk management protocols and robust compliance mechanisms.
  • Consumer Protection: One of the primary aims of MiCA is to bolster consumer protection, and CASPs will play a significant role in this . The new rules will require these service providers to keep consumer interests at the forefront.
  • Transparency and Accountability: CASPs are obligated to furnish detailed information to regulatory bodies, making the entire operation transparent and accountable.

The broader impact on the crypto market

The emergence of CASP-specific regulations under the MiCA framework has broader implications for the crypto asset market. 

First, it lends credibility to the industry, which is often seen as volatile and risky. Secondly, these regulations pave the way for institutional investors to participate more actively in the crypto market. Last but not least, CASP regulations serve as a blueprint for other jurisdictions contemplating their crypto regulations.

Final thoughts on the growing importance of CASP in regulatory compliance

As the EU moves closer to finalizing its MiCA guidelines, the significance of CASPs in the cryptocurrency landscape is escalating. Understanding the implications of becoming a CASP is essential for compliance, and also for anticipating and navigating the market’s future. 

While these forthcoming regulations may seem daunting to some, they present an organized roadmap to a more transparent and secure digital asset environment. 

For existing and aspiring CASPs, it is a pivotal moment to reassess your business models and adapt to these impending changes.

Navigate the complex CASP regulations in confidence, and consult the experts at Vaspex Legal for reliable, up-to-date advice. Take action now, and align your business with the EU’s evolving crypto regulations.