Are Money Services Businesses Exempt From The Corporate Transparency Act?
There are 23 separate exemptions from the CTA's beneficial ownership reporting requirement. The exemptions are listed in order in FinCEN's Final Rule at 31 CFR 1010.380 and take effect on January 1, 2024.
CTA Exemptions Generally
In general, the CTA exempts companies that already report their beneficial ownership to the U.S. government under a separate legal framework. FinCEN's Final Rule addresses each exemption separately in subsection 1010.380(c)(2).
Exemption Number 6 - Money services business
Subsection 1010.380(c)(2)(vi) of the Final Rule exempts:
(vi) Money services business. Any money transmitting business registered with FinCEN under 31 U.S.C. 5330, and any money services business registered with FinCEN under 31 CFR 1022.380.
The term "money services business" is one that FinCEN has developed pursuant to its authority under the Bank Secrecy Act (as amended by the Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994) to regulating "money transmitting businesses." As part of that authority, FinCEN has developed a complex categorization of entities that it regulates as "money services businesses." 31 CFR 1022.380.
In 31 CFR 1010.100(ff), FinCEN defines "money services business" in seven separate categories as:
(ff) Money services business. A person wherever located doing business, whether or not on a regular basis or as an organized or licensed business concern, wholly or in substantial part within the United States, in one or more of the capacities listed in paragraphs (ff)(1) through (ff)(7) of this section. This includes but is not limited to maintenance of any agent, agency, branch, or office within the United States.
Dealer in foreign exchange
A person that accepts the currency, or other monetary instruments, funds, or other instruments denominated in the currency, of one or more countries in exchange for the currency, or other monetary instruments, funds, or other instruments denominated in the currency, of one or more other countries in an amount greater than $1,000 for any other person on any day in one or more transactions, whether or not for same-day delivery.
(i) In general. A person that accepts checks (as defined in the Uniform Commercial Code), or monetary instruments (as defined at § 1010.100(dd)(1)(ii), (iii), (iv), and (v)) in return for currency or a combination of currency and other monetary instruments or other instruments, in an amount greater than $1,000 for any person on any day in one or more transactions.
(ii) Facts and circumstances; Limitations. Whether a person is a check casher as described in this section is a matter of facts and circumstances. The term "check casher" shall not include:
(A) A person that sells prepaid access in exchange for a check (as defined in the Uniform Commercial Code), monetary instrument or other instrument;
(B) A person that solely accepts monetary instruments as payment for goods or services other than check cashing services;
(C) A person that engages in check cashing for the verified maker of the check who is a customer otherwise buying goods and services;
(D) A person that redeems its own checks; or
(E) A person that only holds a customer's check as collateral for repayment by the customer of a loan.
Issuer or seller of traveler's checks or money orders.
A person that:
(i) Issues traveler's checks or money orders that are sold in an amount greater than $1,000 to any person on any day in one or more transactions; or
(ii) Sells traveler's checks or money orders in an amount greater than $1,000 to any person on any day in one or more transactions.
Provider of prepaid access
(i) In general. A provider of prepaid access is the participant within a prepaid program that agrees to serve as the principal conduit for access to information from its fellow program participants. The participants in each prepaid access program must determine a single participant within the prepaid program to serve as the provider of prepaid access.
(ii) Considerations for provider determination. In the absence of registration as the provider of prepaid access for a prepaid program by one of the participants in a prepaid access program, the provider of prepaid access is the person with principal oversight and control over the prepaid program. Which person exercises "principal oversight and control" is a matter of facts and circumstances. Activities that indicate "principal oversight and control" include:
(A) Organizing the prepaid program;
(B) Setting the terms and conditions of the prepaid program and determining that the terms have not been exceeded;
(C) Determining the other businesses that will participate in the prepaid program, which may include the issuing bank, the payment processor, or the distributor;
(D) Controlling or directing the appropriate party to initiate, freeze, or terminate prepaid access; and
(E) Engaging in activity that demonstrates oversight and control of the prepaid program.
(iii) Prepaid program. A prepaid program is an arrangement under which one or more persons acting together provide(s) prepaid access. However, an arrangement is not a prepaid program if:
(A) It provides closed loop prepaid access to funds not to exceed $2,000 maximum value that can be associated with a prepaid access device or vehicle on any day;
(B) It provides prepaid access solely to funds provided by a Federal, State, local, Territory and Insular Possession, or Tribal government agency;
(C) It provides prepaid access solely to funds from pre-tax flexible spending arrangements for health care and dependent care expenses, or from Health Reimbursement Arrangements (as defined in 26 U.S.C. 105(b) and 125) for health care expenses; or
(1) It provides prepaid access solely to:
(i) Employment benefits, incentives, wages or salaries; or
(ii) Funds not to exceed $1,000 maximum value and from which no more than $1,000 maximum value can be initially or subsequently loaded, used, or withdrawn on any day through a device or vehicle; and
(2) It does not permit:
(i) Funds or value to be transmitted internationally;
(ii) Transfers between or among users of prepaid access within a prepaid program; or
(iii) Loading additional funds or the value of funds from non-depository sources.
(i) In general.
(A) A person that provides money transmission services. The term "money transmission services" means the acceptance of currency, funds, or other value that substitutes for currency from one person and the transmission of currency, funds, or other value that substitutes for currency to another location or person by any means. "Any means" includes, but is not limited to, through a financial agency or institution; a Federal Reserve Bank or other facility of one or more Federal Reserve Banks, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, or both; an electronic funds transfer network; or an informal value transfer system; or
(B) Any other person engaged in the transfer of funds.
(ii) Facts and circumstances; Limitations. Whether a person is a money transmitter as described in this section is a matter of facts and circumstances. The term "money transmitter" shall not include a person that only:
(A) Provides the delivery, communication, or network access services used by a money transmitter to support money transmission services;
(B) Acts as a payment processor to facilitate the purchase of, or payment of a bill for, a good or service through a clearance and settlement system by agreement with the creditor or seller;
(C) Operates a clearance and settlement system or otherwise acts as an intermediary solely between BSA regulated institutions. This includes but is not limited to the Fedwire system, electronic funds transfer networks, certain registered clearing agencies regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), and derivatives clearing organizations, or other clearinghouse arrangements established by a financial agency or institution;
(D) Physically transports currency, other monetary instruments, other commercial paper, or other value that substitutes for currency as a person primarily engaged in such business, such as an armored car, from one person to the same person at another location or to an account belonging to the same person at a financial institution, provided that the person engaged in physical transportation has no more than a custodial interest in the currency, other monetary instruments, other commercial paper, or other value at any point during the transportation;
(E) Provides prepaid access; or
(F) Accepts and transmits funds only integral to the sale of goods or the provision of services, other than money transmission services, by the person who is accepting and transmitting the funds.
U.S. Postal Service
The United States Postal Service, except with respect to the sale of postage or philatelic products.
Seller of prepaid access
Any person that receives funds or the value of funds in exchange for an initial loading or subsequent loading of prepaid access if that person:
(i) Sells prepaid access offered under a prepaid program that can be used before verification of customer identification under § 1022.210(d)(1)(iv); or
(ii) Sells prepaid access (including closed loop prepaid access) to funds that exceed $10,000 to any person during any one day, and has not implemented policies and procedures reasonably adapted to prevent such a sale.