The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, or CySEC, is the financial institution in the Republic of Cyprus, tasked with oversight of the financial industry. As part of the EU, Cyprus built its reputation as one of the key financial centres in the European Union.
It has also quickly grown to become the top regulator of forex and binary options brokerages wanting to operate in the EU.
The popularity of CySEC is a result of a business-friendly tax regime and the ease of operating a financial service in the region. As part of the EU, Cyprus-regulated firms can legally offer their financial services, such as binary options and forex trading, to EU residents, thus making it an ideal regulator for most brokerage businesses in Europe.
CySEC, as a financial regulator, is tasked with oversight of the financial industry based in Cyprus. The commission is administered by a five-member board.
Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission
CySEC was launched in 2001 and was established under the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission law that was enacted. The regulator is a corporate body, and it immediately became part of the EU's Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). Thus, Cyprus-regulated brokers can operate across Europe with CySEC licenses.
CySEC's mission is to ensure investor protection and to develop healthy competition in the securities and the financial markets. Its responsibilities include constantly monitoring the financial businesses registered in its jurisdiction. The commission also conducts audits on the licensed entities and has the power to revoke licenses.
CySEC regulated brokers, as a result, have grown to be more trusted among the retail trading industry, which includes forex and binary options traders. This comes amid a host of new measures undertaken by CySEC to ensure fairness and transparency among the financial institutions licensed with the authority.
In fact, the watchdog is well known for sending its warning letters to the investment and financial services companies and, in some cases, withdrawing licenses from some of the businesses it regulates.
Binary options in the European Union
Following the strong growth in the binary options trading industry, CySEC was the first financial regulator to move toward recognizing and bringing binary options trading under its jurisdiction. Binary options were classified as financial instruments in 2012, and thus, businesses that offered binary trading to retail clients had to obtain CySEC licenses.
The move came amid a plethora of various binary options white label operators. At that time, hundreds of binary brokers were operating across the globe, and many of them obtained the newly created licenses. The Cyprus commission wasn’t always able to fully monitor the brokerages’ activities and protect retail clients’ interests.
Given that the EU market is much larger than the UK or Australian markets, CySEC was on an impossible mission with so many new binary brokers popping up every day. With the growing pressure from local financial regulators in France and Belgium, CySEC was forced to tighten the binary options industry.
In 2017, the Cyprus commission implemented new rules, mostly concerning the advertising and marketing tactics that brokers can use in targeting new clients. The new regulations led to most binary companies shutting down.
Although brokerages regulated by CySEC can offer their services to most of Europe, the companies are also required to adhere to the regional laws enforced by the respective financial institutions. In some cases, CySEC regulated brokers are being banned in countries, such as Belgium and France.
Despite the stiff regulations, there are still brokers that continue to offer binary options to EU retail traders. Such brokerages need to follow not only the CySEC rules but also to adhere to the regulations in other European countries.
AMF French financial regulator
AMF is the regional financial regulator for France. Working as an independent body, AMF regulates all financial businesses registered in its jurisdiction. The French regulator also aims to safeguard the interests of the French residents through a series of measures, which include banning illegal financial products and conducting investigations.
By 2017, the AMF mandated changes to the retail brokerage business, including forex and binary options. These mandated changes included banning all electronic advertisements targeting French citizens for forex, CFDs and binary options products.
The AMF is also very active in issuing public warnings against binary options and forex brokers that continue to offer their services unregulated in France.
BaFin German financial regulator
BaFin is the Federal financial supervisory authority for Germany. As with most other financial supervisory institutions, the BaFin is tasked with ensuring market integrity and regulating the offer of financial products.
In 2017, BaFin began to impose mild restrictions on Forex and CFDs products. Among the series of measures taken, BaFin stated the above service providers must ensure negative balance protection.
The rules were implemented in early August 2017, and the regulator joins the ranks of other regional financial regulators in the EU that have come down strongly on the OTC trading industry.
Benefits of trading with a CySEC regulated broker
Although the above conditions are restrictive for binary options brokers, the rules and regulations imposed by the financial regulators are in the best interest of the traders. There are numerous examples of how traders were not paid or were scammed. In most of these cases, the culprits were the unregulated or offshore companies.
As a binary options trader, it is in your best interest to carefully scrutinize the broker that you want to trade with. Choosing to trade with a CySEC regulated firm will ensure your money is protected in a segregated account and the broker cannot block your withdrawals for no reason.