In recent years, the startup ecosystem in Belgium is gaining momentum. There is also a noticeable increase in the provision of fintech deals. The country is now considered one of the leaders in Europe in terms of these indicators. The fintech sector has become more flexible, faster and better, and innovative companies have further adapted to the needs of the market.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some issues related to the registration of fintech startups in Belgium and their subsequent transformation into large-scale companies that can compete in the international arena.
Financial markets are under the supervision of The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA). Crowdfunding platforms in Belgium, as well as insurance intermediaries such as brokers or agents, have to file applications at FSMA to obtain a license.
It’s another story if you want to register a full-scale insurance company in Belgium, or if you consider obtaining a bank license in Belgium. In such cases, you should get authorized by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) which supervises payment institutions, exchange companies and more.
Crowdfunding in Belgium
Crowdfunding is regulated based on the interpretation of existing laws governing credit and investment activities, which creates an alternative for the crowdfunding platforms to function as fully regulated financial institutions or continue to be in an unstable and unregulated legal field where a huge number of people are provided an opportunity to co-finance certain types of projects.
Belgian crowdfunding platforms receive financing by issuing investment instruments. What are investment tools? They can be stocks and transferable debt instruments when a company raises money by selling debt instruments to investors, and more.
Payment services are regulated by the new Payment Services Directive which is better known as PSD2. This regulation deals with the security of online transactions and is aimed at creating more competition and fostering innovation in the world of payments. Through PSD2, other businesses can gain access to your payment details. Banks are required to provide access but only if you want them to and have given consent for it. Otherwise, they can't.
The provider must also be registered with the National Bank. Such providers only receive permission if they satisfy strict requirements to get a license.
Legal advice on the payment systems regulation in Belgium from our advisors will help you understand in detail how services are to be provided in accordance with PSD2.
The real support of the fintech ecosystem in Belgium is reflected in tax benefits to fintech companies and its investors that have been recently introduced by the Belgian authorities. Here they are to name just a few:
Tax haven for startups applies to direct and indirect equity investments of Belgian fintech companies through approved crowdfunding platforms. The tax reduction, in this case, is up to 45% of the amount of investment.
One more benefit for those who support young startups: loans through crowdfunding platforms to start-up companies not older than four years can enjoy the exemption from income tax.
If you are interested in setting up a fintech company in Belgium, intend to register a crowdfunding platform in Belgium in the near future, or if you are thinking about obtaining an international license of a fintech operator, or obtaining a license for financial activities in the Benelux countries, we recommend that you seek advice from experienced IQ Decision UK specialists. Our qualified legal advisors will help you understand the requirements of Belgian and EU regulation. You can also order legal advice on ICO regulation in Belgium from us.