Why should international companies consider the Greater Zurich area for expansion under the new MiCA regulations? In this interview, Dr. Andreas Glarner, Legal Partner at MME, provides insights into the advantages and compliance requirements that the MiCA framework offers for international businesses looking to succeed in the EU's dynamic crypto market.

Three essential tips for crypto companies expanding to Greater Zurich

  1. Fully grasp compliance requirements: Dive deep into understanding every aspect of the MiCA regulations. Ensure that your business is ready by preparing detailed documentation, understanding licensing needs, and making necessary operational adjustments well ahead of deadlines.
  2. Establish a robust EU presence: Invest in creating a sufficient operational presence within the EU. This means not just opening an office but also embedding your business within the local ecosystem through the required local substance, local partnerships, and active engagement in the market, which will facilitate regulatory compliance and market penetration. With regard to some of our neighboring European countries, in particular Liechtenstein, a large part of the Swiss substance may also be attributed to the EU presence which allows to build up an efficient and cost-saving operational structure, using the Swiss entity as the global hub for your business.
  3. Align operations with local and EU regulations: Carefully align your business practices with both Swiss and EU regulatory frameworks. Pay particular attention to areas of frequent change and stringent regulation, such as data protection and financial services.

Dr. Glarner, great to have you with us today. Could you start by explaining what the MiCA regulation entails and why it's particularly relevant to the crypto industry right now? 

MiCA, which stands for Markets in Crypto Assets Regulation, was introduced to provide a harmonized regulatory framework for crypto assets in the EU. It's aimed at enhancing transparency, protection, and stability in the crypto market. Although it was enacted in June 2023, it will fully come into effect in January 2025. Given the rapid evolution of the crypto industry, it’s crucial to understand and prepare for these changes well in advance to ensure compliance.


With the upcoming enforcement of MiCA, what are the critical first steps that international companies should take if they are potentially affected by this regulation? 

The first step for any company is to determine if their activities fall under the MiCA regulations. This involves assessing whether they deal with crypto assets, e-money tokens, or asset reference tokens, as defined by MiCA. Understanding the specific category and requirements is critical for outlining the necessary compliance steps, including adjusting business operations and preparing relevant documentation like whitepapers.

MiCA is an EU market access regulation and is not a substitute for Switzerland's strength as a global business location.
Andreas Glarner
Dr. Andreas Glarner - Legal Partner, MME

You mentioned that MiCA also impacts non-EU based companies, particularly Swiss crypto firms. Can you elaborate on how these companies are affected and what specific actions they should take?

MiCA applies not only to EU-based entities but, as a market access regulation, potentially also to any company that serves EU customers. For Swiss companies, this means they must ensure their services meet MiCA standards if they target or serve EU clientele. Actions to consider may include conducting a notification of a whitepaper, a regulatory audit and establishing a operational presence within the EU to obtain licensing.


The concept of 'reverse solicitation' is quite critical under MiCA. Can you explain what this entails and how companies can navigate this aspect of the regulation?

Reverse solicitation allows companies not licensed under MiCA to serve EU clients who approach them independently. However, the EU is stringent about this exemption, focusing on limiting unsolicited outreach to EU clients. Companies must carefully document and manage client interactions to ensure they comply with these guidelines, avoiding any promotional activities that could be construed as solicitation.


Preparing for MiCA seems to be quite an intensive process. What are the most significant challenges international companies face during this preparation, and how can they effectively address these challenges?

The challenges include understanding the depth of regulatory requirements, aligning business models with MiCA standards, and the practical aspects of documentation and licensing. Effective preparation involves early assessments, possibly restructuring certain operations, and ensuring thorough documentation like the drafting of compliant whitepapers and authorization applications. This in an environment where most EU regulatory bodies have not yet adapted their internal processes to MiCA and have not been able to establish a practice on various open questions.

Discover 5 key aspects of MiCA regulation

  1. Scope of regulation: MiCA is a comprehensive regulatory framework that applies to crypto assets, including e-money tokens and asset reference tokens and related services. It targets enhancing market transparency, protection, and stability.
  2. Early preparation is crucial: MiCA will fully enter into effect in January 2025 (parts of it already in June 2024). Accordingly, companies are encouraged to start preparing now. Early preparation includes understanding whether their crypto assets fall under the scope of MiCA and preparing necessary documentation and compliance strategies.
  3. Impact on Non-EU companies: MiCA regulations also affect non-EU companies, especially those targeting or serving EU clients. Such companies must comply with MiCA standards and may need to establish an operational presence within the EU.
  4. Reverse solicitation: Companies not licensed under MiCA can still serve EU clients in a very limited form through reverse solicitation, where EU clients approach them independently. As the concept of reverse solicitation under MiCA is expected to have a very narrow application scope, companies must manage this carefully to ensure compliance and avoid any activities that could be viewed as solicitation.
  5. Building substance in the EU: To comply with MiCA, companies may need to create operational presence in the EU, which involves setting up a physical office, hiring local staff, and ensuring that significant business decisions are made within the EU. However, regarding some of our neighboring European countries, in particular Liechtenstein, a large part of the Swiss substance may also be attributed to the EU presence which allows to build up an efficient and cost-saving operational structure, using the Swiss entity as the global hub for your business.

How should companies approach the requirement to create substance within the EU? What are the practical steps involved in building such substance to comply with MiCA?

Creating substance in the EU involves more than just a formal presence; it requires operational and economic activities in the region. However, regarding some of our neighboring European countries, in particular Liechtenstein, a large part of the Swiss substance may also be attributed to the EU presence which allows to build up an efficient and cost-saving operational structure, using the Swiss entity as the global hub for your business. Companies should therefore not only take their global business strategy into account when deciding on an European jurisdiction from which they want to enter the European market, but also operational efficiency. In any case, also from a Swiss tax perspective, it is important to ensure that decision-making processes occur within the EU.


Finally, what advice would you offer to international companies in the crypto sector considering expanding their operations to the Greater Zurich area considering the new MiCA regulations?

The Greater Zurich area offers a strategic entry point into the both the global as well as the European market, with a robust financial services ecosystem. My advice is to leverage local expertise, substance and regulatory support to navigate MiCA compliance. Start by understanding the impact of MiCA on your business and aligning your business operations with the regulatory requirements and consider partnerships or advisory services that can facilitate smoother entry and operation within the EU market.

Blockchain and Web3 in Greater Zurich

Blockchain and Web3 in Greater Zurich

The Greater Zurich Area, specifically its world-famous Crypto Valley, has developed into a world center for the blockchain industry. Greater Zurich provides a business-friendly, pragmatic regulatory environment and a deep-rooted sense of privacy protection, along with a high concentration of peer companies, service providers and world-renowned research institutions, all working together in order to push the boundaries of the blockchain application scope.

Web3 and Blockchain Technology Hub in Greater Zurich Area

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