5 Benefits of Obtaining an MSB/fMSB License in Canada and Essential Compliance Guidelines

Discover the advantages of registering for MSB/fMSB and the variety of financial services you can provide. Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements to unlock new financial opportunities and learn how to avoid common mistakes.

Fintech Team
June 6, 2024

Money Services Businesses have significantly transformed the digital market economy. They are crucial in providing financial services globally, making transactions and foreign exchange effortless.

However, in order to operate these services, there are strict rules and regulations that must be followed including obtaining a money service business license, and keeping up with compliance obligations in operating the business. 

License holders must know about the types of services they are allowed to offer as a money service business. It is also necessary to manage complex legal responsibilities to remain compliant.

In doing so, money service business owners and operators can avoid hefty fines or worse, have their license seized.

Understand the two key players in the financial world: MSBs and fMSBs

MSBs and fMSBs play a critical function in the worldwide circulation of funds. Let’s get a better understanding of what MSBs and fMSBs are.

  • MSB - Money Services Business:
    A business in Canada that provides financial services like currency exchange, money transfers, and check cashing.
  • FMSB - Foreign Money Services Business:
    A foreign entity that offers money services such as currency exchange and money transfers to clients in Canada.

A wide variety of business types fall under the MSBs and fMSBs category. Both MSBs and fMSBs can provide services such as money transfer services, foreign currency exchanges, cheque cashing services, etc.

Both MSBs and fMSBs are regulated by a federal authority in Canada - Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), responsible for monitoring MSBs and fMSBs very closely.

It is their duty to fight against financial crimes and make sure that the funds passing through MSBs and fMSBs are legitimate and lawful.

It is important to understand and learn the services you can provide along with your legal terrain if you are learning more about Canadian MSBs and fMSBs. Additionally, you should be aware of the services you should steer clear of in order to remain in line with regulations.

5 Benefits of obtaining a MSB/fMSB license

As a certified MSB/fMSB, you can participate in serving business and retail clients through a variety of service offerings.

Some common services include:

  • Foreign Exchange Dealing - 
    It means swapping one fiat currency for another. Foreign Exchange Dealing operates on a global scale. It allows traders and institutions to engage in buying and selling.
  • Fund Remittance/Transmission 
    Fund remittance/transmission is an act of sending money from one location to another, the occurrence often happens between different countries.
    This can include transferring funds from a person or company in one nation to a receiver in a different country.
    They do this by utilizing banks, money transferring companies, or online payment systems like PayPal.
    • Payment Service Provider: 
      These companies focus on sending or transferring money, serving as the important connection between online retailers and their clients.
      PSPs guarantee that your online transactions are both secure and smooth by facilitating seamless payments. They are still required to enroll as Money Services Businesses (MSB/fMSB) to adhere to regulations and ensure the security of transactions.

  • Dealing in Virtual Currency
    Using digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. for purchasing or selling the goods and services or using it as a form of payment. 
    • Virtual Currency Exchange Services
      This includes transforming conventional money (such as USD) into digital currencies (like Bitcoin) or vice versa.
    • Virtual Currency Transfer Services
      This involves transferring virtual currency for a client or receiving virtual currency transfers meant to be remitted to a designated recipient. 

Fundamentally, it encompasses every facet of purchasing, trading, and transferring digital currencies within the virtual financial realm.

  • Sale of Monetary Instruments 
    This includes swapping money orders, cashier's cheques, traveler's cheques, and comparable items for cash or alternative payments.
    These tools are utilized to move funds in a safe and secure manner, particularly when cash or personal cheques are not feasible or secure.
  • Crowdfunding Portal Operation
    It involves overseeing and assisting with online platforms that enable individuals and businesses to collect funds from a wide audience.
    Here is an analysis of what is required:
    • Management of Platform
      Running a website or application allowing users to generate and oversee fundraising initiatives. Assisting campaign creators and backers with user support to ensure a seamless and effective experience.
    • Payment Processing: 
      Managing transactions, guaranteeing that contributions are received from supporters and delivered to project founders.
    • Compliance and Security
      Making sure the platform follows legal rules and safeguards users' data and funds.
    • Marketing and reaching out: 
      Promoting strategies to draw in potential supporters and assisting campaigns in gaining exposure.
    • Data Analytics: 
      Examining user data in order to enhance platform efficiency and offer valuable information to those running campaigns.

Basically, it is the unseen effort that enables crowdfunding to happen, linking innovators with backers and bringing concepts to life.

Essential Compliance Guidelines for MSB/fMSB License Holders

Any failure to comply with regulations can lead to harsh penalties, regulatory actions, or even the revocation of the MSB/fMSB license. 

We strongly advise the following rules to steer clear of any accidents:

  • Never offer assistance to unauthorized organizations
    MSBs and fMSBs are not allowed to offer any kind of financial services to individuals or entities who are not correctly identified. One has to be authorized to conduct financial transactions and should not be on the government's watchlist. They should not be involved in criminal activities. It is vital and mandatory to do a thorough screening of the customer. It is fundamental to have strong Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedures in place to avoid serving unauthorized individuals and organizations.
  • Never provide Financial Services Without Proper Documentation
    Always follow proper documentation, in order to prevent yourself from becoming a part of anything illegal.
  • Never engage in Unlicensed Activities
    Understand your boundaries and always stay strictly within the parameters of your licenses to avoid yourself from getting stuck in prohibited deviations.
  • Never Facilitate Transactions for Illegal Purposes
    Don’t engage in any transactions that are meant to finance illegal activities like drug or human trafficking, terrorism, etc. Be cognizant and make sure that the money is coming from legal origins and is used for lawful reasons.
  • Never engage in Money Laundering Activities
    MSBs and fMSBs are not allowed to knowingly help with money laundering or handle transactions that are made through illegally obtained funds.
  • Never Violate Sanctions
    Follow the sanctions and embargoes set by government authorities on an international level. Actively monitor transactions to avoid breaches.
  • Never engage in Fraudulent Practices
    Deceptive behaviors like misrepresenting services, falsifying transaction records, or misleading customers/regulatory authorities are not allowed.

How to Achieve Key Compliance Goals for MSBs and fMSBs

As you know, the regulations are always changing, and it has become more important than ever to stay ahead of the game. 

The process of following compliance regulations can come across as intimidating to many but it doesn’t always have to be daunting. Here are the necessary steps to follow:

Knowledge is power and keeping yourself informed will assist you in anticipating and quickly adapting to changes. 

  • Establish a Strong Compliance Program
    Create and put into effect detailed AML/CTF policies and procedures customized to address the specific risks associated with your business. 
  • AML Compliance Officer in Canada
    Assign a competent compliance officer to supervise your AML compliance program. 
  • Invest in Training your employees
    Give employees consistent training to improve their understanding of AML/CTF obligations and their involvement in adhering to regulations.
  • Never forget to perform routine inspections/audits
    Perform AML audits independently every two years to evaluate the efficiency of your compliance strategies and pinpoint areas that need enhancement. 
  • Keep yourself informed
    Stay updated on regulatory changes and industry standards to guarantee continuous compliance.

The Fintech Team at Renno & Co. understand that staying in compliance requires thorough and constant vigilance, adaptability, and a proactive mindset. 

We provide exclusive packages for all your Legal and Compliance needs, so that you can focus on serving your customers and expanding your business.

Ready to get started? Contact us today.

The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind.

Crypto & Blockchain Experts

Your go-to Canadian Crypto lawyers for