Cyprus: A Regulated Gateway to the EU Interview with Avi Sela, COO Reglations, eToro

In recent years, Cyprus has been increasingly viewed as a Mediterranean gateway to the European Union and an attractive location for foreign companies to either establish offices or even their headquarters. Avi Sela, COO Regulations at eToro, talks about the advantages and opportunities that Cyprus has to offer.


Why did eToro decide to establish a company in Cyprus? What does Cyprus have to offer as an investment destination and how does it compare with other EU jurisdictions?

eToro is a multi-asset investment platform that looks to empower people to grow their knowledge and wealth as part of a global community of successful investors. As part of Europe, Cyprus allows Israeli companies access to the EU in terms of regulation. The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) has extensive experience in regulating a range of investment instruments. We chose CySEC because it is a European regulatory authority, which enables us to responsibly provide clients across the EU with access to the diverse range of asset classes offered to retail investors around the world. Cyprus offers a regulated gateway for financial firms to access the European Economic Area, and this works well for a rapidly growing business, such as eToro, which is continuously scaling.


Companies opening regional offices sometimes bring employees along with them. Do you source eToro employees from the local Cypriot workforce for or do you prefer to transfer them from Israel? Can the local market cover your needs?

We have been operating in Cyprus for many years and have gained experience in onboarding and training local staff. We rely mainly on local talent in Cyprus and we offer our employees advanced development programmes. Our team in Cyprus works in close collaboration with all eToro’s global sites and both sides exchange knowledge and experience as we build the reach of our global social investment network.


What does Cyprus need to do in order to become a dynamic/vibrant international business hub for Israeli businesses and organisations wishing to deal more easily with the EU?

Cyprus should continue to offer more support to international companies looking to develop local teams. It could also consider adjusting its tax regime to allow IT companies to provide more benefits to its employees. We would recommend continuing to invest in the promotion of tech education and providing more opportunities for local talent to work in global tech companies. It is important that Cyprus continues to embrace innovation in finance and position itself as an innovation hub for fintech in the EU. More resources should be allocated to the local regulators in Cyprus to allow them to develop the knowledge and experience that is required to support the growth of the fintech sector in Cyprus.


Do you plan to invest further and expand the company in Cyprus? What can we expect from eToro in the future?

As we continue to grow, eToro will keep investing in its operation in Cyprus. The retail investment landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace and we believe that eToro is uniquely positioned to provide users with a simple and transparent way to access a broad array of global financial markets. We are very excited about what lies ahead for eToro and our users in the coming years.


What are the challenges facing the online trading industry and how do you see it developing in the near future?

We are currently witnessing the biggest discussion in human history about the value of money. Bitcoin is at the centre of this debate as investors question the role and value of fiat. We have also seen a shift in the mindset, led by commission-free stock trading. Suddenly, an entire generation has realised that, thanks to new technologies, they can open an account with $50 and start investing in their favourite stocks. Retail investors are more numerous and more engaged than ever before and we expect to see retail market participation continue to grow as more people take control of their finances. The next generation of retail investors want access to more services, asset classes and financial instruments. Companies should adjust their offering to accommodate this demand and invest more in technology to improve their level of service to clients.