FinCEN Issues Guidance On Virtual Currencies

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Explore:  FinCEN Virtual Currency

On March 18, FinCEN issued guidance to clarify the applicability of Bank Secrecy Act regulations to persons creating, obtaining, distributing, exchanging, accepting, or transmitting virtual currencies. FinCEN clarifies that a person that obtains a virtual currency to purchase goods or service (a “user”) does not fit within the regulatory definition of a money transmission service, and therefore is not subject to the relevant regulations. However, a person engaged as a business in the exchange of virtual currency for real currency, funds, or other virtual currency (an “exchanger”), and a person engaged as a business in issuing a virtual currency, and who has the authority to redeem such virtual currency (an “administrator”), generally are considered money transmitters under FinCEN’s regulations if they (i) accept and transmit a convertible virtual currency or (ii) buy or sell convertible virtual currency for any reason. The guidance reviews FinCEN’s specific determinations regarding different activities involving virtual currencies and the appropriate regulatory treatment of administrators and exchangers under each of the scenarios. Specifically, the guidance addresses (i) brokers and dealers of e-currencies and e-precious metals; (ii) centralized convertible virtual currencies; and (iii) de-centralized convertible virtual currencies.