The Green Sheet Online Edition
October 24, 2016 • Issue 16:10:02
50-state MSB status in 30 seconds
Adam Atlas Attorney at Law, a commercial law firm specializing in electronic payments, fintech and merchant acquiring law, launched MSBStatus.com, a service that provides detailed reports on the money services business (MSB) status of any entity. The niche product was devised as a tool for ISOs, fintech startups, financial analysts and other interested parties in need of up-to-date information on MSBs and virtual currency businesses (VCBs).
MSBs ‒ which generally offer check cashing, money order, travelers check, money transfer, foreign currency exchange or prepaid products and services ‒ and VCBs must register with the U.S. government and in all states in which they operate, a process that can cost millions of dollars and take up to three years to complete. MSBStatus.com compiles public data from federal and state registrations into a comprehensive report, reducing the time, effort and costs of researching business entities.
"When an MSB operates nationally, the licensing process requires dealing with each state individually," said Adam Atlas, founder of his eponymously named law firm. "I have spent countless hours and never found a single source to provide details of a company's status across all states."
Multiple registrations, licenses
The labor-intensive process of researching MSB status information for clients prompted Atlas and his associates to develop an efficient, automated system. Following are examples of registration and licensing agency data included in an MSBStatus report:
FinCEN: The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) acts as the designated administrator of the Bank Secrecy Act, which was enacted in 1970 to fight against money laundering. FinCEN safeguards the financial system, working closely with financial authorities to promote national security by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating financial intelligence.
- CFPB: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established in 2011, created in conjunction with the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, enforces Dodd-Frank reforms through educational outreach and legal actions against noncompliant companies. CFPB records can reveal complaints filed against companies, Atlas said.
- NMLS: The NMLS Federal Registry regulates federally chartered or insured institutions and mortgage loan originators in compliance with rules established by the CFPB and the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act. The Registry accepts applications in 30 states, making it necessary to research 20 other states separately, Atlas stated.
- FATCA: The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), passed as part of the HIRE Act, requires foreign financial institutions and entities to report foreign assets held by U.S. account holders. The HIRE Act also requires U.S. persons to report foreign financial accounts and offshore assets. Two hundred thousand financial institutions are registered with FATCA; MSBstatus.com can identify companies registered in different countries with similar names.
- FINTRAC: The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada is Canada's financial intelligence unit, established to detect, prevent and deter money laundering and financing of terrorist activities while protecting Canadian citizens' personal information.
- Card Brand Registration: MSBstatus.com can generate acquirer, issuer or ISO reports in 30 seconds and can reveal a company's card brand registrations, Atlas noted.
A timely resource
MSBstatus.com can provide a reality check for payments industry stakeholders, including attorneys researching the fintech landscape for clients and banks seeking the license and registration status of existing and prospective MSB partners. The reports provide current information on MSB licensure, complaints and state license status, the law firm stated.
Reports can be integrated and customized using an application programming interface, enabling clients to provide additional data on the subject of their study. Reports will provide "not just what's going on but what has changed most recently in the MSB space," Atlas said. "We'll be among the first to know if Uber decides to become an MSB."
MSBStatus.com is designed to be a timely resource in the rapidly expanding fintech space. "I hope, as the industry grows and becomes more transparent and synchronized, that my service will ultimately become obsolete," Atlas said. "MSB information may eventually become freely available to the public, but we don't expect that to happen any time soon."
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