On 27 November 2012, the Belgian Federal Parliament finally adopted the second E-Money Directive after having amended the initial E-Money Act of 21 December 2009. This means electronic money institutions (EMIs) can now run activities that are not related to e-money issuance, whereas this was prohibited by the previous 2009 Act, restricting these institutions to only e-money issuance and closely related activities.

This could, for example, be useful for mobile phone operators because they can now be considered hybrid EMIs. The prudential requirements provided for by the Belgian E-Money Act and which concern amongst others, minimum capital, authorisation and registration with the Financial Services and Market Authority (FSMA) will apply regardless whether the operators qualify as a hybrid or non-hybrid EMI.

Also, the maximum sums of anonymous e-money allowed have been changed. For non-rechargeable devices (e.g., electronic gift cards), the maximum storage value is EUR 250, and for rechargeable devices (e.g., Proton or PayPal) it is EUR 2,500 in total transactions made within a calendar year, except in instances where EUR 1,000 or more are redeemed within a calendar year.

The minimum capital requirement is reduced from an initial and on-going capital of EUR 1 million to an initial and ongoing capital of EUR 350,000. Furthermore, the amendment extends the exemptions provided under the previous Act. Henceforth, the prudential requirements of the E-Money Act might not apply to E-Money institutions of which the average outstanding amount of E-Money does not exceed 5 million Euros. Moreover, payment institutions may be exempt from the prudential requirements if the total average sum of the payments made during the last 12 months does not exceed EUR 3 million per month.

With the adoption of the second E-Money Directive and the removal of some of the regulatory barriers that were instigated by the first E-Money Directive, many hope that the e-money market can now also take-off in Belgium. (CL)

The Act can be found on http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/loi/loi.htm.