Procedures for Registration as a Payment Service Provider in Georgia

In the realm of financial services, particularly within the jurisdiction of Georgia, the operation of payment services is subject to regulatory oversight. This regulatory framework aims to ensure transparency, security, and stability within the payment sector. Central to this regulatory landscape are entities known as Payment System Providers (PSPs), which play a crucial role in facilitating various payment transactions. The PSPs encompass a diverse array of entities, including commercial banks, microbanks, and microfinance organizations. These entities serve as intermediaries between users and the payment infrastructure, enabling the smooth transfer of funds and the execution of payment transactions.

PSPs are mandated to register with the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), a regulatory requirement aimed at ensuring compliance with statutory regulations and safeguarding the interests of consumers and stakeholders alike. However, it is noteworthy that commercial banks, microbanks, and microfinance organizations are automatically authorized to provide payment services under Georgian statutory regulations. Consequently, the rules pertaining to registration as a PSP do not apply to them. Therefore, if an entity, excluding commercial banks, microbanks, or microfinance organizations, intends to offer payment services, it shall register as a PSP before the NBG.

In Georgian market, several prominent entities have established themselves as major players in the provision of payment services. Notable among these is leading commercial bank such as JSC TBC Bank. Additionally, brands such as CPAY, OPPA and eMoney Georgia have also registered as PSPs in Georgia.

The Scope of the Services Provided by PSP

Pursuant to the applicable Georgian law, the PSP is authorized to perform the following:

  • Services that ensure the debiting of funds from the payer’s account and related transactions;
  • Services related to the crediting of funds to the recipient’s account and related transactions;
  • Making payments through direct debits (including one-off orders), payment cards, or other electronic means, as well as credit transfers (including standing orders) within the funds or credit resources of a payment service user;
  • Issuance and/or acquisition of payment instruments, including electronic money instruments;
  • Execution of remittances;
  • Issuance of electronic money (issuance of tokens e.g. via an ICO and the exchange of fiat money into cryptocurrencies and the exchange from cryptocurrencies back into fiat money), along with the implementation of payment transactions through electronic money, utilizing methods such as mobile phones, the Internet, or other electronic means;
  • Execution of payment transactions based on the consent of the payer given by means of telecommunication, digital, or IT devices, to or in favour of the telecommunication, IT system, or network operator that acts as an intermediary between the payer and the payee, as well as between the user and the supplier of goods or services; and
  • Provision of payment initiation services.

Hence, entities intending to undertake any of the aforementioned activities are obliged to undergo registration as a PSP before the NBG.

Procedure for Registration of PSP

To initiate the registration process, entities must first establish a legal entity and then provide a comprehensive set of documents to the NBG. The required set of documents include general information about the entity, comprehensive list of payment services, details about the administrators of the PSP, information pertaining to significant shareholders, beneficial owners or individuals with significant influence and other documents related to the payment system.

All documents must be either original or notarized copies, with foreign documents legalized and translated into Georgian.

Moreover, the NBG retains the authority to request further information or documentation from the entity as necessary to finalize the registration decision. The NBG may, at any stage of the registration process, ask the entity to demonstrate the electronic system used for implementing payment services or grant access to its employees at the head office for assessment purposes.

Should the documentation provided by the entity fail to meet the stipulated requirements, the NBG will grant 30 calendar days for rectifying the deficiencies and/or clarifying the submitted data. After the documentation provided to the NBG meets its requirements, a thorough examination of the submitted documentation within a stipulated timeframe of 60 calendar days is conducted, reserving the prerogative to solicit supplementary information, if deemed necessary.

Upon successful registration, the NBG issues an administrative document confirming the entity’s status as a registered PSP, along with details of authorized payment services.

Provision of Payment Services After Obtaining Approval by NBG

It is important to note that Georgian law does not impose any additional costs to be paid to the NBG, apart from the application review fee of GEL5,000. However, Georgian legislation does establish general regulations applicable to all PSP companies, including rules for their administrators. The administrator of a PSP is a member of the supervisory board, a member of the board of directors, or an individual authorized to independently undertake obligations on behalf of the PSP. The administrators overseeing PSP activities must meet the specific criteria, including: (i) no record of serious criminal offenses; (ii) compliance with financial regulations; (iii) compliance with fiduciary duties; (iv) relevant education and managerial experience in finance or related fields.

Moreover, Georgian legislation categorizes PSPs as the accountable entities under Anti-Terrorism and AML laws, mandating compliance with their provisions. Specifically, these laws require PSPs to conduct customer identification and verification using reliable and independent sources, as well as identifying beneficial owners, and to undertake reasonable measures to verify their identity based on credible sources. Additionally, PSPs are obligated to monitor their business relationships with customers to ensure compliance with the Anti-Terrorism and AML laws of Georgia.

In conclusion, the regulatory landscape governing PSPs in Georgia underscores the importance of adherence to strict guidelines to ensure transparency, security, and accountability within the financial sector. The procedures outlined for registration as a PSP highlight the meticulous process involved in obtaining approval from the NBG and emphasize the significant role PSPs play in facilitating payment transactions within the country. By navigating the registration process effectively and complying with regulatory requirements, entities can contribute to payment infrastructure in Georgia, fostering economic growth.

MG Law Office Recognized Once Again as a Leading Firm in Georgia by The Legal 500

MG Law Office has once again solidified its position as a leading law firm in Georgia, receiving recognition from The Legal 500. This acknowledgment reaffirms the firm’s unwavering dedication to excellence and client satisfaction.

MG law kept its Tier 1 ranking in Dispute Resolution and top ranking in Commercial, Corporate and M&A in the guide’s 2023 rankings for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). This year also marks the first time MG Law has been ranked in Real Estate and Construction. This recognition highlights MG Law’s commitment to diversifying and enhancing its offerings to meet the evolving needs of its clients.

Our partners, Archil Giorgadze and George Svanadze have been recognized as leading individuals embodying the firm’s commitment to delivering top-tier legal services. Furthermore, Ana Kochiashvili continues to shine as a rising star, showcasing remarkable potential and talent in her field. Joining her is Lasha Machavariani, whose recognition as a rising star underscores the firm’s commitment to nurturing emerging talent.

The recognition from The Legal 500 underscores MG Law Firm’s commitment to excellence and client satisfaction. As it continues its journey of legal excellence, MG Law remains a trusted advisor, providing top-notch legal services with integrity and professionalism.

We are delighted to share with you our clients’ testimonials, selected by the Legal 500:

“MG Law demonstrated an unparalleled level of competence and attention to detail, ensuring that all legal aspects were properly addressed and resolved efficiently.”

“They have a profound knowledge of the market, with exceptional understanding of business needs and the ability to think beyond the legal frames.’”

“The firm doesn’t just offer legal advice; it provides strategic insights and solutions that help clients overcome obstacles and seize opportunities.”

“MG Law’s insights are both eye-opening and consistently helpful and clients can expect a proactive and forward-thinking approach. What sets MG Law apart is its commitment to providing tailored solutions.”

Georgia Introduces Amendments to the Law of Georgia on Personal Data Protection

The Parliament of Georgia recently adopted the new Law of Georgia on Personal Data Protection (the New PDP Law or the New Law). The New PDP Law contributes to Georgia’s fulfillment of international obligations and brings existing legislation in the field of personal data protection closer to the European standards. The New Law has entered into force on 1 March 2024.
The New PDP Law introduces several novel amendments that controller or/and data processor (the Controller or/and Processor) should consider. The Personal Data Protection Service (the Service), an independent state authority, is responsible for monitoring compliance with the New PDP Law.

Novel Grounds of Data Processing
The New Law introduces additional legal grounds for permissible data processing, such as contractual necessity, protection of important public interests, or investigative purposes. Based on these novel grounds, data processing is considered permissible when it is deemed necessary for either performance or conclusion of an agreement with the data subject or upon explicit request of the data subject. According to the New Law, data processing is also permissible when necessary to perform tasks falling within the scope of public interest as defined by Georgian legislation. These include activities related to crime prevention, investigation, prosecution, administration of justice, detention and imprisonment, non-custodial sentences and probation, operative and investigative activities, public safety safeguarding, protection of the rule of law, including information security and cyber security.

New Rules Related to Consent of the Data Subject
The New Law determines specific requirements with respect to obtaining consent of the data subject. If the Processor plans to obtain the consent of the data subject with a document that also covers other issues, the Processor is obliged to separate written consent form from other parts of the document and formulate it in a clear, simple, and comprehensible language. Also, if the consent is given within the scope of the agreement, it should be evaluated whether this consent is a necessary condition of the agreement and whether it is possible to receive the relevant service without this consent. As for the processing of special category data (such as data on/ data connected to a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political views, religious or philosophical beliefs, membership of professional organizations, state of health, sexual life, criminal history and others), such data may be processed on the basis of the written consent of the data subject or other enumerated grounds for processing of special categories of data set out in the New PDP Law.

Technical and Organizational Measures to Ensure Data Security
The Processor is obliged to take appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the processing of the data in accordance with the New PDP Law. Such measures should adequately ensure data protection, including against unauthorized or illegal processing, accidental loss, destruction and/or damage. The Processor must ensure that technical and organizational measures are taken to automatically process only the amount of data that is necessary for the specific purpose of the processing. These measures should be applied in such a way that an indefinite number of people are automatically granted access to only a minimum amount of data before a permitted alternative approach is chosen. Furthermore, technical, and organizational measures should be periodically updated according to categories, volume, purpose, form, means of data processing and possible threats of violation of the data subject’s rights.

New Rules related to Direct Marketing
Under the New Law, in case the personal data is processed for direct marketing purposes, receiving the written consent of the data subject is mandatory. The Controller/Processor should explain to the data subject their right to withdraw their consent at any time in a clear and comprehensible form with the simple mechanism/procedure for exercising this right. The Controller/Processor should also ensure that the data subject has the possibility to request the termination of the data processing for the direct marketing purposes in the same manner as the direct marketing is carried out.

Regulations regarding Video Monitoring
Video Monitoring of the working process and space is permitted only in exceptional cases, if the purposes for video monitoring cannot be achieved by other means or such means are associated with a disproportionately large effort. In the case of video monitoring of the working process and space, the Controller / the Processor is obliged to inform the employee regarding the purpose of video monitoring in writing. Further, in case of video monitoring, the Controller is obliged to define in writing the purpose, scope, duration and the storage period of video monitoring, the manner, and conditions of access to the video recording, its storage and destruction and the mechanisms for protecting the rights of the data subject in accordance with the principles of data processing. A crucial novelty related to video monitoring is that the warning sign must be installed in a visible place and contain an appropriate inscription, an easily perceptible image about carrying out video monitoring as well as the name and contact data of the Controller.

Mandatory Reporting of Incidents
The New PDP Law imposes the obligation to notify the Service, regarding the occurred incidents of data security breaches. Specifically, the Controller is required to maintain the registry of incidents which describe the incident, its outcome and the measures taken. Each and every incident that may cause significant harm and/or pose a significant threat to fundamental human rights, shall be reported to the Service in writing no later than 72 (seventy-two) hours after the discovery of such incident. As required under the New Law, the Service adopted the order which sets out the rules of reporting and criteria for determining whether specific incident poses harm and/or threat to fundamental human rights. According to the rules published by the Service, the information about the incident shall be submitted to the Service electronically through the official webpage of the Service.

Mandatory Appointment of the Personal Data Protection Officer
Another notable aspect of the New PDP Law is the introduction of the position the personal data protection officer (the Officer), which comes into effect from 1 June 2024. Appointment of the Officer is mandatory in various sectors such as public institutions, insurance organizations, commercial banks, microfinance organizations, credit bureaus, electronic communication companies, airlines, airports, and medical institutions and this obligation extends to entities processing substantial volumes of data or engaging in systematic and large-scale monitoring, regardless of specific mention. As required under the New Law, the Service adopted order on the list of persons who do not have the obligation to appoint or designate the Officer. According to this order, there is no obligation to appoint an Officer if the Processor: (i) processes the personal data of less than 3 percent of the population of Georgia; (ii) process the special category data of less than 1 percent of the population of Georgia; or (iii) does not engage in systematic and large-scale monitoring of data subject behavior. For the purpose of calculating the list of persons whose data is being processed, the employees of the Processor are not counted in (regardless of their number). The Processor who has an obligation to appoint the Officer may meet this requirement through three options: (i) Appointing the Officer; (ii) Adding the functions of the Officer to an employee; or (iii) Outsourcing. The Processor is obliged to publish the identity and contact information of the Officer on its website or through other accessible channels.

Rules related to Data Protection Impact Assessment
The New Law introduces the rules on data protection impact assessment, which enter into force from 1 June 2024. If, considering new technologies, categories, volume, purposes, the risk of undermining fundamental human rights and freedoms is highly likely, the Controller is obliged to assess in advance the impact on data protection. Such assessment entails adoption of the document describing the category, process, purposes of and grounds for Data Processing as well as organizational and technical measures provided for the purpose of data security protection. The data protection impact assessment is mandatory if the Controller makes decisions in a fully automated manner (including on the basis of profiling) or processes special category data of a large number of data subjects or implements systematic and large-scale monitoring of the behavior of data subjects in public gathering places.

Sanctions for Breach of the New PDP Law
The New PDP Law increases the penalties for breach. Depending on the nature of the breach, the organizational form, and the annual turnover of the offender as well as the existence of aggravating and mitigating circumstances, administrative liabilities may vary from warning to penalty in the amount of GEL1,000 (one thousand) to GEL20,000 (twenty thousand), depending on the nature of the breach of the New PDP Law.

Practical Effect of the New Law
Considering the novelties set out in the New PDP Law, the Processors of personal data should review their internal processes, technical and organizational measures and internal documents to ensure compliance with the New Law. Specifically, each Processor / Controller shall: (i) review its internal policies regarding data protection and consent form for obtaining consent; (ii) update these documents as necessary; (iii) create a register of incidents and procedures for notifying the Service; (iv) determine whether it is under obligation to appoint the Office and appoint such Officer no later than 1 June 2024, if applicable; (v) determine whether it is under obligation to adopt the data protection impact assessment and adopt such document no later than 1 June 2024, if applicable.

Georgia Starts Validation of European Patents

On 15 January 2024 the International Agreement on validation of European patents between the Government of Georgia and the European Patent Office (the Validation Agreement) has entered into force. The European Patent Office examines European patent applications and grants European patents respectively. The Validation Agreement ensures a fast and cheap way of obtaining a patent for an invention in Georgia – by requesting validation of the European patent application in Georgia.

A patent is a document issued by the state that confirms exclusive rights to the invention – a technical solution in any field of industry. According to the Patent Law of Georgia, the registration of a patent is only possible if an invention is novel as well as industrially applicable and has an inventive step (i.e. its creation is not obvious for the specialist based on prior knowledge). An application for the registration of a patent should be submitted before the National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia (the Georgian IP Center) which is responsible for registering intellectual property rights in Georgia. Notably, the registration of a patent enables the patentholder to benefit from their invention on the territory of Georgia and prohibits other persons to use it without the patentholder’s permission.

The novelty and effect of the Validation Agreement is that, effective from 15 January 2024, the European patents registered by the European Patent Office will also benefit from such a scope of protection in Georgia after their validation by the Georgian IP Center. In this regard, the collaboration between the Georgian IP Center and the European Patent Office should be carried out in legal as well as administrative matters to ensure the effectiveness of the validation system. Furthermore, a joint committee should be established to discuss all matters arising from the Validation Agreement. The joint committee shall consist of representatives of the European Patent Office and the Georgian IP Center.

One of the fundamental approaches of the Validation Agreement is that the European patent application and the European patent validated in Georgia should be granted the same legal force and protection as the Georgian patent application and the Georgian patent. Accordingly, the European Patent Office will not grant a European patent if it is similar to a national patent that is already registered in Georgia. Therefore, this process will not only result in time and cost-efficiency for applicants but also create a possibility to ensure legal certainty of these applications and patents from the perspective of both the European Patent Office and the Georgian IP Center.

The validation process includes several stages to be followed. Firstly, according to the Validation Agreement, a request for the validation of European patents in Georgia should be submitted to the European Patent Office. This can be done by choosing Georgia as a validating country while submitting an application of the registration of a European patent before the European Patent Office. It is worth mentioning that the only European patent applications submitted from 15 January 2024 before the European Patent Office are subject to validation in Georgia.

As for validation fees, they must be paid to the European Patent Office within six months of the date of publication of the European search report in the European Patent Bulletin. The European Patent Office should then transfer any information on European patent applications and related proceedings to the Georgian IP Center.

At the next stage of the validation process, if a European patent is granted, the patent owner then has three months to submit a complete and precise Georgian translation of the European patent to the Georgian IP Center and pay fees established for publication. Notably, where the text of the formula of the invention contains references to drawings, such drawings should also be attached to the Georgian translation.

Once a European patent is validated in Georgia, it will be in force during the term of the European patent itself provided applicable fees are paid for the maintenance of validation.

The Validation Agreement dated 31 October 2019 is valid for a period of five years and will continue for further five-year periods, unless the Government of Georgia or the European Patent Office express their objection in writing no later than six months before the end of the relevant five-year period. In case of termination of the Validation Agreement, the provisions regarding the request for validating the European patent will still be applicable for: (i) Pending European patent applications, if the requests for their validation are submitted before the termination date; and (ii) European patents that are granted based on such pending European patent applications.

By executing the Validation Agreement Georgia becomes the 5th country with the validation status and the 45th country where patent protection is possible on the basis of a European patent application. As we look ahead, this will also attract foreign investments in Georgia as well as contribute to Georgia’s accession to the European Patent Convention and the process of Georgia becoming a member state of the European Union.

The team from Free University of Tbilisi took part in the international bilingual moot court competition of the Council of Europe

The team from Free University of Tbilisi, supported financially by MG Law Office and Free University of Tbilisi, took part in the international bilingual moot court competition of the Council of Europe (MOOT COURT ON THE EUROPEAN SOCIAL CHARTER). Each team was required to use both English and French languages during the pleadings.

The competition took place at Jean Moulin University in Lyon, France. This year marked Georgia’s first-ever participation in the international moot court competition of the Council of Europe. The jury members expressed their praise for the performance of the Free University of Tbilisi’s team, which received excellent feedback.

Additionally, the team of Free University of Tbilisi was the only participant university whose team came from a non-EU member state—a remarkable mention at the closing ceremony!

The members of the Free University of Tbilisi team were Rusudan Gochitashvili, Nino Shelia, and Nata Tsnoriashvili

MG Law Office proudly supports the aspirations and development of young lawyers. By fostering an environment that encourages learning and international participation, we aim to contribute to the nurturing of the next generation of legal professionals.

MG Law Office Celebrates Tamar Jikia’s Legal Milestones and Return as Legal Director

MG Law Office is proud to announce that after graduating from Columbia Law School, Tamar Jikia has successfully passed the New York State bar exam. Tamar’s remarkable achievement not only qualifies her for admission in any UBE jurisdiction across the United States but also serves as a testament to her dedication and unwavering commitment to legal excellence.

After these successful milestones, we are delighted to welcome back Tamar in her new role as a legal director. Having been an integral part of the MG Law team from its inception, Tamar has consistently displayed a profound passion for delivering exceptional client service. Her recent promotion is a testament to her exceptional skills and dedication, embodying the very essence of MG Law’s commitment to nurturing and fostering young legal talent.

Tamar Jikia’s remarkable journey is a reflection of the dedication and commitment to excellence that defines MG Law’s core values. Her expertise and leadership will undoubtedly shape the future of our legal practice, reinforcing our commitment to delivering unparalleled legal services and fostering a culture of excellence and growth within our firm. MG Law looks forward to the continued success and contributions of Tamar Jikia as she takes on this new and significant role within our team.

A message from managing partner Archil Giorgadze: “At MG Law, we have always strived to cultivate the growth and development of our legal professionals. We are immensely proud to welcome Tamar back in her new role as Legal Director, following her enriching academic journey at Columbia and her successful passage of the New York bar exam. With her return, we are confident that Tamar will continue to elevate our practice and contribute significantly to our ongoing success.”

MG Law Office Celebrates Growth and Promotions

MG Law Office is thrilled to announce the promotion of two outstanding associates and the addition of a new, highly talented associate to its team. These developments mark a significant milestone in the firm’s journey, showcasing its commitment to growth and excellence.

Promotions:

We are proud to recognize the dedication and exceptional work of Lasha Machavariani who has been promoted to Senior Associate and Elene Kutaladze, who has been promoted to Associate. Their hard work, legal acumen, and unwavering commitment to our clients and the firm have made them invaluable assets. Their promotions are a testament to their outstanding contributions and the faith we have in their continued success.

Lasha Machavariani joined our firm in 2019 and has shown remarkable growth in a short span of time. Lasha’s journey from joining as legal intern to his current role as Senior Associate is a testament to his exceptional legal skills, strategic thinking, and dedication to upholding our firm’s values. Lasha has played a pivotal role in numerous successful cases and has earned the trust and respect of clients and colleagues alike.

Elene Kutaladze, with us since 2022, has exhibited remarkable legal expertise, and a tireless work ethic. Her contributions have not only strengthened our firm’s reputation but have also delivered favorable outcomes for our clients

New Addition:

We are excited to welcome Giorgi Tsagareishvili to the MG family. Giorgi brings with him a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective that will undoubtedly enrich our practice areas.

Giorgi graduated with honors from Free University of Tbilisi and prior to joining MG Law, Giorgi was an intern at JSC Liberty Bank and from the beginning of 2021 till September 2023, he held different positions at BGI Legal, including, during the last year of his employment, a position as a Junior Associate and an Associate. We are confident that his skills and dedication will contribute significantly to our firm’s continued growth and success.

A Message from Managing Partner Archil Giorgadze:

“MG Law has always been committed to providing exceptional legal services to our clients. The promotions of Lasha Machavariani and Elene Kutaladze, as well as the addition of Giorgi Tsagareishvili, exemplify our dedication to nurturing talent and delivering the best possible results for our clients. This further strengthens our joint efforts to grow Andersen Georgia and MG Law as a one firm with diversified professional services. We look forward to the exciting journey ahead as our firm continues to expand and evolve.”

As we celebrate these achievements, we want to express our gratitude to our clients, colleagues, and friends who have supported us on this journey. We remain dedicated to delivering top-tier legal representation and are excited about the future.

For more information about MG Law Office and our legal services, please visit https://mglaw.ge/.

MG Law Office Becomes Thought Leader and Contributor of Chambers Expert Focus

We are also delighted to share that Chambers Expert Focus has featured our latest article on their website, titled “Government Incentives to Drive Renewable Energy Investments in Georgia.”

The Government of Georgia (GOG) has made the development of a renewable energy (RE) market a top priority. To incentivise investments, the GOG has actively worked on creating a favourable legal framework for investors. In line with the Energy Community Treaty and the EU/Georgia Association Agreement, the GOG has implemented several reforms for establishing a competitive energy market to foster the growth of clean energy supply in Georgia.

By growing the number of RE projects, Georgia is directing its focus towards self-sufficiency and exporting electricity to neighbouring countries and Europe. To facilitate this endeavour, plans are underway to establish a Black Sea submarine cable connecting Georgia with Romania.

A significant milestone was achieved in 2022, when Georgia recorded its highest-ever income from electricity exports, totalling around USD85 million. Currently, most electricity exports are directed towards Turkey, where a surge in demand drove the approximate tariff per kWh up to 14.1 US cents in 2022.

Moreover, starting from 1 July 2023, operators in Georgia’s RE market will have the opportunity to trade on the Georgian Energy Exchange. This will foster market competition and create accurate price signals for both existing and potential market participants, thereby enhancing the overall efficiency of the electricity markets.

To ensure price stability and encourage investments in RE projects, the GOG recently approved the Support Scheme for Generation and Consumption of Energy from Renewable Sources and Capacity Auction Rules through Ordinance No 556 (the “Ordinance”). The Ordinance introduces a new support scheme for individuals/companies interested in investing in Georgia’s RE market. It includes the option to enter into a contract for difference (CfD) with the GOG.

On 10 February 2023, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia (the “Ministry”) announced its first CfD auction for a capacity of 300 MW. This led to the selection of 24 investment projects involving hydro, wind and solar energy, which are currently undergoing development.

What is a CfD?

A CfD is an agreement between a participant chosen in the capacity auction and the Electricity System Commercial Operator (ESCO). Under the CfD, ESCO is responsible for reimbursing the selected participant the difference between the tariff proposed by the selected participant and the price established in the day-ahead market if the proposed tariff is lower. Conversely, if the price in the day-ahead market is higher than the proposed tariff, the selected participant must compensate ESCO for the difference.

The execution of the CfD relies on the implementation of a feasibility agreement, which aims to assess the technical and economic viability of the project (the “Feasibility Agreement”).

Support Period

The support scheme covers a period of 15 years, and thus facilitates long-term financing agreements for investors, starting from the date of a power plant’s commencement of operation, for various renewable energy sources, and covering the subsequent months:

  • for a hydro power plant – 8 months (from September to April);
  • for a wind power plant – 9 months (from August to April);
  • for a solar power plant – 12 months; and
  • for other renewable energy plants – 12 months.

Terms of Payment of the Difference

Both ESCO and the selected participant are responsible for covering the difference between the proposed tariff and the price determined in the day-ahead market only during the Support Period.

The reimbursement amount will be calculated daily using the hourly data from the day ahead market, in accordance with the official exchange rate set by the National Bank of Georgia. The total reimbursement will be paid by the end of each reporting month.

CfD Auctions

CfD auctions are announced by the Ministry.

Participants willing to participate in the auction should submit the following documents to the Ministry:

• general information about the participant;

• prior technical and economic study of the potential project;

• proposed tariff;

• presumed schedule for implementation of the project;

• bank guarantee in the amount of GEL10,000 per MW;

• location and main parameters of the plant;

• topographic map of the location (scale 1:25,000);

• short geological information and map of the location;

• seismic information and map of the location;

• hydrological and meteorological information;

• energetical model;

• initial information regarding the environmental impact;

• potential scheme and possibility to connect the network;

• information regarding infrastructure;

• potential cost estimate;

• economic report;

• financial model;

• information about registration in the debtors’ registry; and

• confirmation that the company is not subject to liquidation or insolvency/rehabilitation processes.

The Capacity Auction Commission (the “Commission”) examines the participants’ applications. If any deficiencies are found in the submitted documents, the Commission allows additional time for the participants to make corrections. The Commission’s review process for applications usually lasts one to three months.

If there are several applications for the same project area, the project with the lower tariff will be selected.

Execution of the Feasibility Agreement and CfD

Once the project is selected, the Commission prepares a report which will be submitted to the GOG for approval. If the project is approved by the GOG, both the GOG and the selected participant will proceed to enter into the Feasibility Agreement. If the participant fully complies with the terms specified in the Feasibility Agreement, the GOG will then proceed to enter into the CfD with the selected participant.

Following the execution of the CfD, the selected participant is required to engage in trading activities on Georgia’s day-ahead market. After a period of five years from the start of the plant’s operations, the selected participant has the option to terminate the CfD by providing a written notice at least six months in advance.

Summary

In conclusion, the newly introduced legal framework by the GOG for CfDs is anticipated to offer positive prospects by ensuring price stability and long-term revenue certainty for RE projects. This, in turn, is expected to attract investments and foster the development of such projects.

Should you require further information, reach out to MG Law (Andersen Global Member Firm) at archil.giorgadze@mglaw.ge.

Georgia Introduces Amendments to Gambling Law to Regulate Online Gaming

The Government of Georgia recently submitted a legislative package to the Parliament of Georgia with the aim of implementing new regulations for the organization of gambling and winning games through an online format. The legislative package encompasses amendments to various legislative acts, including but not limited to the following acts: the Law of Georgia on Lotteries, Gambling and Winning Games (the Law on Gambling), the Law of Georgia on Licenses and Permits, the Law of Georgia on License and Permit Fees, and the Law of Georgia on Gambling Business Fees (the Legislative Package). The proposed amendments seek to introduce a separate permit system, enabling effective control and oversight of the industry.

The Legislative Package underwent an accelerated parliamentary process, with the first and second hearings held in December 2022. Subsequently, on 10 February 2023, the final hearing took place, and the package was sent to the President of Georgia for signature and publication.

Defining Systemic-Electronic Games and Persons Affected

The Legislative Package introduced a novel definition for “organizing gambling and/or winning games in a systemic-electronic form.” This definition covers games conducted through the internet, telephone, and specially designed electronic platforms. The Legislative Package also includes provisions regarding “Persons Addicted to Gambling” and “Restricted Persons,” explicitly considering those addicted to systemic-electronic games as well.

Permit Requirements and Restrictions

Under the amendments, obtaining permits for organizing systemic-electronic gambling is mandatory. Separate permits are required for organizing casinos, totalizators, and slot saloons in a systemic-electronic form. The Legislative Package states that a permit for a systemic-electronic casino can be issued either with or without an existing permit for a land-based casino, and the same applies to slot saloons and totalizators, thus, permit for slot saloons and permit for totalizators can be issued either with or without an existing permit for a land-based slot saloon and an existing permit for a land-based totalizator. Additionally, the Legislative Package specifies that each permit for a slot saloon, totalizator, or casino can only cover a single website under a unique internet domain.

Restrictions on Land-Based Establishments

To comply with the new regulations, land-based gambling establishments, such as slot saloons and casinos, are prohibited from hosting computers or electronic devices for participation in systemic-electronic games. This provision aims to emphasize the requirement for a separate permit for systemic-electronic games.

Fines and Fees

The Legislative Package outlined the fines imposed for violations related to the permits for the gambling games in a systemic-electronic form. Persons found in violation of permit requirements under the Law on Gambling face a fine of GEL7,000, while those failing to meet permit fee deadlines may be fined GEL20,000. The Legislative Package also introduced annual fees and quarterly gambling business fees, varying based on the type of game and whether the person already holds permit for land-based gambling game. In particular, the Legislative Package established following annual fees:

(1) permit for organizing casino in a systemic-electronic form – GEL5,000,000;

(2) permit for organizing casino in a systemic-electronic form on the basis of the permit for organizing casino (land based) – GEL100,000;

(3) permit for organizing slot saloon in a systemic-electronic form – GEL1,000,000;

(4) permit for organizing slot saloon in a systemic-electronic form on the basis of the permit for organizing slot saloon (land based) – GEL100,000; and

(5) permit for organizing totalizator in a systemic-electronic form – GEL100,000.

Effective Date and Compliance

The proposed amendments will come into force on 1 June 2024. Thus, entities involved in systemic-electronic games must ensure compliance with the new regulatory framework before 1 June 2024. The Legislative Package further mandated the Government and Ministry of Finance of Georgia, and local municipalities to develop subordinate legislative packages related to the amendments by the same date.

The Legislative Package represents a significant step towards regulating online gaming activities in the country. By implementing a separate permit system, the Government of Georgia aims to exercise effective control over the industry. As the Legislative Package has already been approved, industry participants must prepare for compliance with the new regulations by June 2024.

News: Novel Regulations on Virtual Asset Service Providers

We would like to inform you that the Rules for Registration, Deregistration, and Regulation of Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) have been approved.

MG LAW actively participated in consultations held by the National Bank of Georgia with specialists and stakeholders in this field. As a result, on June 13, 2023, the President of the National Bank of Georgia approved Order No. 94/04 (available here), which fulfills and clarifies the existing legislative amendments in relation to VASPs (please see our earlier publication).

This order sets out the information required for VASP registration with the National Bank, anti money laundering and counter-terrorist financing procedures, as well as other requirements, for example, the head office specifications and logging requirements. Additionally, the order establishes regulations governing VASP activities. For instance, it prohibits lending virtual assets to individuals and offering virtual asset services through agents, among other restrictions.

The order and associated regulations will come into effect on July 1, 2023. However, existing VASPs have specific timelines to comply with the regulations. Some of these timelines are as follows:

  • VASPs who exchange virtual assets in national or foreign currency through self-service kiosks must ensure proper video surveillance of these kiosks by January 1, 2024.
  • VASPs have a period of 1 year after registration, but no later than July 1, 2024, to implement a control system against money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • Persons who, prior to July 1, 2023, provided virtual asset services for the benefit of another person, have 3 months to implement a software (electronic) system that utilizes distributed ledger technology (DLT) to automatically detect suspicious or unusual transactions by processing existing information.

MG Law will provide a detailed overview of the rules for registration, deregistration, and regulation of VASPs in the following publications.