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Participation in and provision of financial services 

Fifth and last service in the list of VASP services (“Limb (v)”). It covers activities related to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), in particular persons who participate in, or provide financial services related to, offers and/or sales of Virtual assets through specific activities such as ICOs (FATF Virtual asset Guidance, §77). An ICO is an event generally meant to raise funds for new projects from early backers (FATF Virtual asset Guidance, §77). Such "early backers" may be or may not be affiliated with the issuer that undertakes the ICO (FATF Virtual asset Guidance, §77).

The other Limbs of the VASP definition may also be relevant to the businesses involved in ICOs. Persons related to the issuance of Virtual assets through an ICO may also provide VASP qualifying services that involve the exchange, transfer and/or safekeeping activities under Limbs (i) to (iv) (FATF Virtual asset Guidance, §77).

Typically, ICOs are announced and promoted online, through different marketing materials. Issuers or promoters often release a “white paper” which describes the project related to Virtual assets and promotes the ICO (FATF Virtual asset Guidance, §79). Limb (v) services may be provided using a decentralized/distributed ledger technology (“DLT”) – e.g., a blockchain or similar technology. The issuer of Virtual asset issues those Virtual assets within the DLT. The technology is not itself a VASP, as VASPs provisions only apply to ‘persons’ but not to the underlying technology. The issuer of the Virtual asset may be a VASP.

However, issuing a Virtual asset is not, by itself, a covered service under Limb (v) of the VASP definition. In order to be covered by this Limb (v) the persons that issued the Virtual asset must conduct the exchange and transfer of the issued Virtual assets, as a business, for or on behalf of another person. Such services as would be understood as a participation in and the provision of services related to any ICO associated with the issuance (FATF Virtual asset Guidance, §78).

The same way, the creator of a “Virtual asset software” to issue a type of Virtual assets does not per se qualify that creator as a VASP, unless it also performs any covered activity, operation or function listed in the VASP definition, as a business, for or on behalf of another person (FATF Virtual asset Guidance, §78).

A Limb (iv) may involve one or more of AML/CFT and non-AML/CFT regulations, such as those in relation to money transmission, securities, commodities, and/or derivatives activities (FATF Virtual asset Guidance, §79).

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