If there is one thing that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has highlighted with the issuance of its new virtual currency interpretive guidance, it’s that the move has reinforced what responsible thought leaders and experts in the industry have been saying for a while—that it’s time for Bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrency ecosystem to grow up and respect laws.
On Thursday, the U.S. regulatory agency issued a new guidance that addresses whether certain cryptocurrency-related businesses need to be regulated as money services businesses (MSB) and comply with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and other relevant laws in the country. The new “interpretive guidance” is a consolidation of FinCEN’s current regulations as well as related administrative guidance issued since 2011 involving “convertible virtual currencies.”
The guidance specifically outlines how decentralized applications (DApps), defined by FinCEN as “software programs that operate on a P2P network of computers running on a blockchain platform,” may qualify as a money transmitter especially if they “accept and transmit value, regardless of whether they operate for profit”—like a virtual currency ATM, vending machine, or a physical kiosk.
“Accordingly, when DApps perform money transmission, the definition of money transmitter will apply to the DApp, the owners/operators of the DApp, or both,” according to FinCEN. This means these types of DApp services will have to secure a license in the state or states they are currently operating in, as well as federal anti-money laundering and Know-Your-Customer procedures.
FinCEN guidance likely to halt Lightning Network
Like in the case of DApps, FinCEN’s new guidance will also make it even more challenging for the Lightning Network on Bitcoin Core (BTC) to grow. As Founding President of the Bitcoin Association, Jimmy Nguyen,