Dec 15, 2020

Estonia strips 1000 crypto firms of their licence in 2020

Cryptocurrency
Money laundering
Estonia
crypto
Rhys Thomas
2 min
Once a haven for crypto firms, the government is clamping down on the sector over money laundering concerns
Once a haven for crypto firms, the government is clamping down on the sector over money laundering concerns...

More than two-thirds of the cryptocurrency firms operating in Estonia have been stripped of their licence this year, the nation’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) announced.

The clampdown aims to stymie the risk of money laundering and bring the sector under greater regulatory oversight, said Veiko Tali, Secretary General of the MoF and Deputy Head of the government’s Anti-Money Laundering Commission. 

More than 1000 licences have been revoked in the past 12 months, with around 400 crypto firms still in operation, the Ministry confirmed.

Haven turns hostile

The Baltic nation was once a haven for the sector, attracting companies from around the world through easy access to licences and the ‘digital residence’, a quirk allowing firms to locate themselves in Estonia in legal terms regardless of where they are physically based in the world. 

As a result, many of these firms had only loose ties to the country, and findings by Estonia’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) revealed they primarily serve clients overseas in the US, Russia, Latin America and Asia. 

“This is why the commission plans to retain heightened attention to this topic next year,” Tali said. “A number of important regulatory changes are planned for the services of virtual currencies in order to further regulate the field.” 

What 2021 holds

In January this year Estonia introduced stricter laws for businesses attempting to acquire or retain their crypto licences. The new regulations include increased fees and the requirement of an office and director based within its borders. 

In order to maintain increased pressure on the sector, Tali said the MoF would also spin the FIU out into an independent agency and more than double its resources, bringing its budget up to €3.1m and adding around 15 more specialist to the unit, a 50% increase. 

“The future goal of the Financial Intelligence Unit is to focus on developing the functions of strategic data and risk analysis,” Tali added. 

These heightened measures will come into effect from January 2021. 

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Jun 17, 2021

Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT

HOOPP
Checkpoint
3 min
Erez Yarkoni, Global VP, explains how a three-way partnership between Check Point, HOOPP, and Microsoft is yielding optimum cloud security

Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.

“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.

Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:

  • Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
  • CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
  • Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data

 

However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”

In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies. 

The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help. 

“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”

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