Dec 14, 2023

Comoros: Rising Star in 2024 Forex License Market

Comoros, a teenie-weenie sea-locked nation in mid-Indian Ocean, is a hot spot for Forex licenses in 2024. This is a niche market that has suddenly attracted a lot of attention from the Forex brokerage industry. Mind that although it is a niche one, the market value currently is as high as USD 750 billion a year.

Comoros Forex licenses are fast, easy, and not expensive to secure. For St Vincent Forex entities impacted by the newly-introduced rules and for rebranded Forex startups searching for an affordable regulatory option alike, it can be a quick yet effective solution. 

Forex licensing in Comoros

Comoros advantage: fast-to-get and affordable Forex licenses in a post-Vanuatu era

The primary reason behind the surge in demand for Comoros Forex licenses (more accurately called international brokerage licenses) is the Memorandum published by the local FSA. In conformity therewith, Forex entities operating in the said jurisdiction shall prove by March 10th that they are regulated in a different state. That’s where Comoros comes into play!

One more reason to take into consideration is the decline of the Vanuatu Forex license. With the substance requirements imposed not so long ago, Vanuatu has turned way too expensive as an offshore location to get a Forex license. Chinese-based Forex firms that fancied Vanuatu in the past are also showing a lot more interest in Comoros now.

Compliance crunch: St Vincent Forex firms grapple with the regulatory ultimatum

Forex businesses have been using St Vincent and Grenadines as a jurisdiction that offers minimal regulation for their operations. Although St Vincent Forex companies are theoretically not allowed to offer Forex services in major jurisdictions, they have been able to operate online in an unregulated fashion. However, the regulator in St Vincent has recently decided that all Forex companies registered on the island have to prove that they are regulated in another jurisdiction by March 10th. This deadline is likely to be postponed as it approaches since even legitimate Forex businesses that are regulated elsewhere will probably not be able to get the necessary paperwork in time. Those firms that do not comply with the above demand (which are most likely the majority of St Vincent Forex brokerages) may have to stop their operations or face severe penalties if they cannot meet the said deadline.

Comoros as the lifeline for St Vincent Forex brokers facing regulatory pressure

The solution for St Vincent Forex brokers is obvious: to avoid trouble, they need to quickly find another jurisdiction whose laws and regulations they may be subject to. As things stand, the UK’s FCA and Cyprus’ CySEC are too expensive for most small brokerages. Vanuatu in its turn has become too complex with its substance requirements. Mauritius, Seychelles, and Dubai are possible options but they are too slow to complete the formalities before the deadline.

The only option left is Comoros. With its fast and easy Forex licensing, minimal regulation, no substance requirements, and low costs, Comoros boasts another invaluable bonus: it is not a blacklisted jurisdiction. The country is neither on the FATF nor EU blacklists and boasts excellent relations with the Middle Eastern administrations.

Shadows of uncertainty: complex past and present of Forex licenses in Comoros

Comoros has been offering Forex licenses for over 25 years but they have not been very popular until now. The main reason, as we see it, was the instability of the government in Comoros. There has been a lot of uncertainty about who actually has the authority to offer offshore services in the country.

Comoros was a French colony until 1975. Afterwards, it faced years of chaos and many military coups as an already independent state.

It became an accidental player in the offshore business during the apartheid era in South Africa. The country helped the South African apartheid government with cash, arms, planes, and everything else they needed, bypassing the global sanctions against the state. It was also during this time that Comoros started to offer Forex licenses and varying offshore services.

In 1997, Moheli and Anjouan, two of the islands, declared independence. They needed money and decided to become offshore finance centers, licensing Forex brokerages, banks, IBCs, and many other types of business.

The state, called the Union of Comoros, officially has four islands: Anjouan, Grand Comore, Moheli, and Mayotte. However, no agreement of opinion about it exists.

Mayotte is still under France and not part of Comoros, so we can safely ignore it for offshore purposes.

Grand Comore has its own federal government, yet Anjouan and Moheli can boast as much. This causes a lot of tension and heated discussions about who is eligible to run the above offshore centers.

Comoros has been throwing the baby out with the bathwater with these disputes as they could have cooperated, hired the right staff, and run a successful offshore finance hub. Instead, they have created doubt in the minds of international clients that has damaged their reputation. After all, if the Comorans themselves cannot agree on which authorities regulate which business, how can anyone in the wider world be expected to know?

Worse still, the resulting confusion has allowed scammers, who have nothing to do with the islands, to come up with their fake websites posing as the regulators and start selling fake licenses.

Comoros is mostly known in the offshore business as a haven for the Gulf States and the Middle East market, probably because of its closeness. The jurisdiction ran a Citizenship by Investment Program from 2008 to 2018, selling thousands of passports to people from the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf States. In fact, there may be more Comorans in the UAE now than in Comoros itself but as with everything in Comoros, nobody really knows.

Comoros vs. St Vincent: third-tier options in Forex regulation

A Comoros Forex brokerage license might come useful for St Vincent Forex enterprises that want to comply with the March deadline, or for new start-up Forex brokerage businesses. 

It is a third-tier license below Mauritius and Seychelles that is not as prestigious as a UK or Cypriot Forex brokerage license. We would rank Comoros and St Vincent in the same third tier but Comoros does offer Forex licenses while St Vincent has no such option. Sure, the deficit of prestige should be balanced against the fact that everything is much faster, cheaper, and easier. After all, there is no advantage to doing business in a more regulated jurisdiction if traders are satisfied with dealing with your enterprise online without worrying about your regulation.

Get on the inside of Comoros Forex licenses with expert assistance

An International Brokerage license is the official name of a Comoros Forex license, which also allows various other activities. The latter may encompass CFD, stock brokerage, futures, and accompanying finance services.

A Comoros Forex license can be received by either a resident IBC or a foreign company. For example, a St Vincent IBC could apply for a Comoros license directly or set up a subsidiary or a sister company in Comoros that would apply for the license. Setting up an IBC in Comoros only takes 24 hours.

Comoros has more due diligence requirements than St Vincent. This is expected because St Vincent did not regulate Forex businesses at all until now, allowing unlicensed businesses to operate on the island. With Comoros, you get an officially-issued International Brokerage license and your activities will be regulated under the laws currently in force.

For you to apply for a Comoros Forex license, you must submit these documents:

  • proof of address, passport copies, as well as professional and bank references for all directors and owners (personal KYC)
  • bank reference for the legal entity if already established
  • business plan
  • AML Manual with major compliance policies
  • financial guarantee
  • application form.

The financial guarantee may be in 3 different forms:

  1. Cash Deposit: i.e., a deposit with the FSA, which is the least attractive option.
  2. Local Financial Guarantee: The said guarantee is issued by an insurance company. Some firms offer the service based on a percentage of the guarantee amount. The exact percentage must be negotiated but is usually around 10% per annum. 
  3. International Financial Guarantee: It must be from a recognized solvent third party (usually a bank) in another state.

The financial guarantee amount required is at least EUR 50,000, but the Regulator may ask for a higher amount once they receive your business plan.

Our experts at Offshore Pro Group will gladly assist you with licensing a Forex company in Comoros. Please contact us by email, or alternatively via WhatsApp, to learn more about the requirements to meet and the documents to prepare.

For any questions or comments you might have, please feel free to get in touch with Offshore Pro Group and our expert team.