License for Electronic Money in Panama

Electronic money in Panama is defined as a monetary value in a bank account or another product of a bank that is accessed by electronic devices for making payments through terminals at trade outlets, direct transfer between two devices or through open computer networks (the Guide to Electronic Banking and risks associated with it - a regulatory document (Explanatory statement No. 006-2011 dated 6 December 2011), signed by Junta Directiva Superintendencia de Bancos de Panamá, the director of the banking supervisory authority).

There is also the concept of Banca electrónica (Internet Banking) that is a type of activity for the provision of banking services via remote means, or through electronic channels (including the issuance of electronic money).

So-called adequate structure (Article 5 of the Explanatory statement) is provided for such institutions (electronic banking): the trustworthiness of senior management; compliance of the organizational structure, policies, procedures and processes to ensure the statutory activity, in particular - a reliable system for the registration of electronic accounts, an effective mechanism for monitoring risks, threats, predicting possible vulnerabilities, plans for ensuring continuity of service and emergency recovery, mechanisms for ensuring due diligence and monitoring outsourcing relationships, etc. The foregoing is considerably dispositive assessment by the supervisory authority.

Also, the requirements for the software and the entire technological infrastructure, the procedures for accepting and transferring electronic money are regulated in detail.

The legislation of Panama on Banking business (Decree of the Ministry of Economy and Finance No. 52 of April 30, 1998, as amended in 2008) provides for the licensing of banks, but not other financial institutions, and does not include regulatory norms governing this sector.

The above is regulated by the Basic Law No. 42 on the Regulation of Activities of Financial Companies (of July 23, 2001), Art. 7 of which prescribes that every person who intends to offer financial services must obtain permission (autorización - not licensia as in the banking sector) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

This sector includes the following:

  • financial companies with a wide range of activities;
  • financial leasing institutions;
  • institutions of remittances;
  • financial information agency;
  • pawnbroker's offices.

The application must be submitted through a lawyer (having the right to practice in Panama) and contain the following information (mainly in certified photocopies from the Civil Register):

  • name, family status, composition of the family of the applicant and the applicant's address, certificate on availability of criminal records, etc.;
  • name of the financial company, its contact information;
  • confirmation of the availability of authorized capital;
  • tax number.

Whole list of additional requirements for confirmation of reliability, certificates, audit reports, etc. is attached to the foregoing.

Fee for the issuance of permission is fixed and equals to 1750 balboas (1750 dollars),  and the information is entered in the State Register of Financial Enterprises after the issuance. Annual administrative fee (for state audit and maintenance of data in the register) is 750/1000 balboas (depending on the type of activity).

Minimum authorized capital for financial companies is 500,000 balboas, for Casas de Remesas - "money transfer houses" - 50,000 balboas, but for the latter a deposit of 50,000 balboas is also required in case of harm to third parties or fines.

Pay attention: money transfers (both payment and exchange) in the amount of more than 10 000 dollars for all types of operators are strictly regulated.

The organizational and legal form of enterprises in the financial (non-banking sector) sector is not regulated, however, as of February 26, 2015, 18 money transfer enterprises are listed in the register, mainly joint-stock companies or representative offices of world leaders, and 162 financial companies are also joint-stock companies and representative offices.

The banking sector, including licensing and supervision, is in the competence of the above-mentioned Superintendencia de Bancos de Panamá.

The services of the operator of electronic payment systems are a promising international business. If you want to quickly obtain license to provide non-bank financial services in Panama, feel free to contact Law&Trust International. The experience and professionalism of the specialists of our company will guarantee your success in the market of electronic financial services.

Our principles are legality, confidentiality, reliability.

Our main priority is your comfort. Therefore, we undertake all procedures provided for by the rules for obtaining license in Panama. And you get a service on turnkey basis from us.