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Unpacking Asset-Referenced Tokens under the MiCA Regulations

15 September 2023

As the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (“MiCA”) becomes fully applicable for issuers of crypto-assets and Crypto-Assets Service Providers (”CASPs”) on December 30, 2024, it is essential to understand the impact of this framework on the issuance and regulation of crypto-assets within the EU.

In the third article in this series, we cover Asset-Referenced Tokens (“ARTs”), one of the three categories of tokens covered by MICA (i.e., e-money tokens and other tokens).

An ART is a type of crypto-asset that is not an electronic money token and that purports to maintain a stable value by referencing another value or right, or a combination of the two. This could include one or more official currencies, one or several commodities, one or more crypto-assets, or a combination of such assets[i].

The requirements that are currently proposed are designed to create a robust regulatory framework for ARTs and to protect investors in these crypto-assets by:

  • Ensuring that ARTs are issued by reputable and well-regulated entities.
  • Ensuring that ARTs are backed by the established asset reserves and that investors are protected, even if the issuer becomes insolvent.
  • Helping investors make informed investment decisions.
  • Helping investors track the performance of the ART
  • Ensuring that the issuer is operating in a sound and transparent manner.

It is important to note that the requirements for ARTs under MiCA are still under development[1] and may be subject to change.

Requirements applicable to ARTs

ART Issuer Requirements


  • Must be a legal person established in the EU. This means that the issuer must have its headquarters and a registered office in an EU member state[ii].
  • Authorised by a national competent authority, which is a financial regulator in an EU Member State. The authorisation shall be valid for the entire Union and shall allow an issuer of an ART to offer to the public throughout the EU, the ART for which it has been authorised or to seek an admission to trading of such asset-referenced token[iii].
  •  A credit institution[iv]

White Paper[v]

  • All information included in the white paper should be fair, clear and not misleading, with specific disclosures to be included for the benefit of investors.
  • The white paper must be drawn up in the official language of the home Member State or in a language customary in the sphere of international finance[vi].
  • Any changes to the business model which are likely to have a significant influence on the purchase decision of any holders or prospective holders of ARTs and which occur after the authorisation or approval of the white paper must be notified to the competent authority.

Marketing Communications

  • No prior approval of marketing communications is required ahead of publication.
  • Marketing communications shall be clearly identifiable and as such with the information being fair, clear and not misleading. Furthermore, the information should be consistent with what is being stated in the white paper.
  • On the other hand, marketing communications shall be notified to Competent Authorities upon request.



  • The approved white paper shall be published on the website of the ART issuer.
  • It shall be publicly accessible by the starting date of the offer to the public of the ART or the admission to trading of the ART.
  • It shall be kept on the website for as long as the ART is held by the public.
  • Marketing communications shall be published on the websites of the offerors and persons seeking admission to trading at a reasonable time in advance of and prior to the starting date of the offer to the public.

Transparency Requirements[viii]


  • Issuers must publish regular reports on the ART, including information on the reserve assets[ix], the number of tokens in circulation, and fees charged.

Governance Requirements

  • The ART issuers are required to have funds equal to an amount of at least highest of the following: 
    • EUR 350,00; 
    • 2% of the average amount of the reserve assets; or 
    • a quarter of the fixed overheads of the preceding year.
  • Issuers shall be required to establish effective procedures for the prompt, fair and consistent handling of complaints.
  • Issuers shall be required to maintain and implement effective policies and procedures to identify, prevent, manage, and disclose conflicts of interest.
  • Robust governance arrangements including a clear business structure with clear reporting lines.

Reporting Obligations with Competent Authority

  • Applicable to each ART with an issue value higher than EUR 100 million.
  • ART issuers will be required to report to the competent authority on a quarterly basis. The information that must be reported includes: 
    • The number of ARTs in circulation.
    • The value of the reserve of assets.
    • The number of holders of ARTs. 
    • Any material events or breaches of MiCA.

Significant ARTs


  • The European Banking Authority (“EBA”) will determine which ARTs are significant based on factors such as the size of the ART, the number of investors, and the level of risk involved.
  • Voluntary classification of ARTs as significant ARTs is also possible.
  • The classification as significant ART implies additional obligations for issuers:
    • Compliance with the EBA's guidelines on the management of reserve assets and the protection of investors.
    • Supervision by the EBA.

Custodians of ARTs:

Article 36 requires issuers to constitute and maintain at all times a reserve of assets which will be legally segregated from the issuers’ estate, as well as from the reserve of assets of other ARTs, in the interests of the holders of ARTs in accordance with the applicable law. One of the consequences would be that issuers' creditors have no recourse to the reserve of assets, particularly in the event of insolvency. The reserve assets are required to be held in custody and such a service can be provided by a CASP which provides custody and administration of crypto-assets on behalf of clients.

The custodian of an ART must be a legal person that is different from the issuer of the ART. This means that the custodian cannot be the same company as the issuer. The custodian must have the necessary expertise and market reputation to act as custodian of the reserve assets. They must also keep records of the reserve assets and provide regular reports to the issuer.

The appointment of the custodian must be evidenced by a contractual arrangement. This contract must specify the rights and obligations of the custodian, as well as the procedures for managing the reserve assets.

MiCA Timelines: ARTs issued by legal person.

The diagram below provides an overview of the timelines involved in an assessment of the application for authorisation as per Article 20:

What else are we to expect?

Implementing technical standards

Regulatory technical standards

As it stands, the European Securities and Markets Authority (“ESMA”) and the European Banking Authority (“EBA”) are set to release different Regulatory Technical Standards (”RTS”) specifying key items on several topics:


Follow our Global Regulations Tracker

Over the coming months we will release a series of articles that delve deeper into MiCA through expert opinion and analysis. Make sure to read our articles on MiCA and understanding crypto-assets.

Apex Group Can Help

We can help you stay compliant with the latest regulations and protect your business from financial crime. Get in touch for further information on:

  • Crypto/Virtual asset/VASP-CASP licensing
  • Crypto-assets Due Diligence services
  • Crypto AML compliance support
  • Crypto Compliance Training

[1] At the time of this article

[i] Article 3(6)

[ii] Other undertakings may issue ARTs only if their legal form ensures a level of protection for third parties’ interests equivalent to that afforded by legal persons and if they are subject to equivalent prudential supervision appropriate to their legal form.

[iii] Article 16(3)

[iv] Reference should be made to Article 17 in relation to the requirements applicable to credit institutions which wish to issue ARTs.

[v] Regulatory Technical Standards are to be expected. Furthermore, Regulatory Technical Standards will be developed.

[vi] In the case where the ART is also offered in a Member State other than the issuer’s home Member State, the White Paper shall also be drawn up in an official language of the host Member State or in a language customary in the sphere of international finance.

[vii] Article 28

[viii] Article 30

[ix] Article 36

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