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 retail outlets, direct transfer between two devices or through open computer networks (the Guide to Electronic Banking and risks associated with it - a regulatory document (Clarification No. 006-2011 of 6 December 2011), signed by Junta Directiva Superintendencia de Bancos de Panamá, the Director of the supervisory authority in the banking sphere.

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).

For such institutions (of electronic banking), a so-called adequate structure is provided (Article 5 of the Clarification): the trustworthiness of top management; compliance of the organizational structure, policies, procedures and processes to ensure the statutory requirements, in particular a reliable system for the registration of electronic accounts, effective mechanism for monitoring risks, threats, predicting possible vulnerabilities, plans for ensuring continuity of service and disaster recovery, mechanisms for ensuring due diligence and monitoring outsourcing relationships, etc.; the foregoing presents a very dispositive assessment by the regulatory 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 in Banking sector (Decree of the Ministry of Economy and Finance No. 52 of April 30, 1998 as amended 2008) provides for the licensing of banks, but not other financial institutions, and does not include regulations governing this sector.

It is regulated by the Basic Law No. 42 on the Regulation of Activities of the Financial Companies (dated July 23, 2001), Article 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:

  • financial companies with a wide range of activities;
  • financial leasing institutions;
  • institutions of remittances;
  • financial information agency;
  • lombards.

The application must be submitted through a lawyer (having 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 and the address of the applicant, certificate of the absence of criminal record, etc.;
  • name of the financial company, its contact information;
  • confirmation of the availability of authorized capital;
  • tax number.

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

The fee for the issuance of a permit is fixed - 1750 balboa (1750 dollars), and after the issuance, the information is entered in the State Register of Financial Enterprises. Annual administrative fee (for state audit and maintenance of data in the register) is 750/1000 balboa (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 the latter are also required to contribute a security deposit of 50,000 balboas in case of harm to third parties or fines.

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

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.

Banking sector, including licensing and supervision, is in the competence of the above-mentioned authority - 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 a 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 and reliability.

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