Adam S. Tracy Breaks Down FinCEN's Regulation of Cryptocurrency

Adam S. Tracy Explains FinCEN’s Regulation of Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency attorney Adam S. Tracy discusses FINCEN’s regulation of cryptocurrency and the impact on traders, cryptocurrency exchanges, and OTC bitcoin dealers.


Obviously, there’s a huge emphasis on compliance from a cryptocurrency standpoint with respect to the SEC and to a lesser extent to the CFTC. But the one government agency that’s really put forth the most guidance, if you will, would be FinCEN. And we’ve talked about money service business registration in past, and FinCEN is the government agency that is dealt with enacting the tenants of the Bank Secrecy Act and overseeing money service businesses. And so FinCEN has put out guidance that sort of defines the players in the cryptocurrency market. And those three players are: users, administrators, and exchangers.

And so user is someone who uses virtual currency or cryptocurrency to buy and sell goods. FinCEN has come out directly and said that a user is not a money transmitter and hence not a money service business. An exchanger is one who deals in the exchange of cryptocurrency — the buying and selling of cryptocurrency in exchange for real or other virtual currencies. And in most cases FinCEN and has found that a exchanger is a money transmitter and thus a money service business, and subject to registration as a money service business. Then finally, an administrator, which is the interesting sort element here, is a party that issues virtual currency and has the ability to redeem that virtual currency. And in most cases FinCEN has found that an administrator is, in fact, a money transmitter and thus a money service, and is required to register as a money service business. And it’s a weird implication, or important implication, for ICO companies because they are obviously issuing cryptocurrency, but the caveat or sort of the tenant where I think most ICO companies fall out of the definition of an administrator is that most ICO companies don’t have the ability to redeem their cryptocurrency, right? They issue it, but they don’t redeem it. So therefore they wouldn’t fall into that definition of a money transmitter. So, you know, it’s a very strange implication because there are some ICOs out there that, you know, have this innate ability to redeem whether through conversion or some other mechanism the cryptocurrency that they’ve issued and sold. And technically by the book, according to FinCEN, you are the money transmitter and you need to register as a money service business or face severe fines, penalties, and the like. That’s sort of point one that people, I think, overlook.

Point two is, you know, how do you, sort of, fall outside the ambit of this, if you are a speculator, right? Let’s say I’m an individual who engages in the buying and selling of cryptocurrency or the arbitrage of different cryptocurrencies for my own account. FinCEN has come out with a decision that actually exempts such activity from the definition an exchanger, which across the board is almost always a money transmitter and thus required to register as a money service business. So, you know, there’s a great emphasis on the SEC, and where the SEC is going to fall, and to some extent the CFTC. And that’s valid. That’s super valid, because ultimately that’s cryptocurrency and the large part is a function of an ICO and raising capital for businesses, right? And so the question becomes are we engaging in offerings of securities? And that’s another discussion for another time. But what is codified, what is real, what people overlook, in my opinion my humble opinion for it’s worth, is FinCEN, and their money service business registration and the money transmitter laws that are associated there with. So, it’s definitely something to consider and definitely something to check out, you know, depending on what player you are within the the ecosphere of cryptocurrency. So check me out —

A former professional rugby player, Adam S. Tracy brings over twenty years’ experience as an attorney, consultant and dealmaker with a particular focus on cryptocurrency, digital products, payments and immersive corporate structures. As an accomplished executive and advisor to high risk merchants and stakeholders, Adam has proven himself as a results oriented, decisive leader with proven success advising early market entrants, technology adapters, as well as established participants across a wide range of verticals. Adam Tracy’s attack-first personality allows him to excel in dynamic, demanding environments including complex corporate negotiations, distressed environments and regulatory investigations.

In addition, Adam S. Tracy also has a successful track record co-founding high risk industry ventures, building & leading cross-functional teams, and spearheading diverse corporate transactions. A serial entrepreneur, Adam has successfully started and created exits across a wide swath of markets, including various mobile SaaS ventures, nutraceuticals, peer-to-peer payment systems, and several telemarketing-based ventures. Moreover, as a recognized expert in the payments field, Adam Tracy has been a blockchain and digital currency evangelist and influencer since the early days of Bitcoin.

Utilizing his proprietary “Pre-Event Driven™” strategy for decision making, Adam S. Tracy further leverages his over twenty years’ experience to create cost-effective, value-add solutions for each client. A data-driven acolyte, Adam continually refines his strategies based on field studies and data collection. Moreover, Adam Tracy further augments his range of solutions by actively networking with regulators, liquidity providers, legal and compliance experts, deal-flow brokers, investors and management of leading high risk industry ventures.

Adam S. Tracy earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Applications and Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Notre Dame. He subsequently earned his Masters in Business Administration from the DePaul Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, while concurrently earning his Juris Doctorate from the DePaul College of Law. Adam lives outside Chicago with his with his wife, four dogs, and two cats.

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