Crypto Exchanges Facing Global Money Laundering Rules


New International Standards for Cryptocurrency Exchanges

More than 30 countries will soon need to adopt stricter rules governing cryptocurrency exchanges and transactions or risk falling out of step with new international standards.

The Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental group focused on money laundering, signed off on guidance June 21 instructing crypto exchanges to gather and transmit more user data. It’s meant to crack down on illicit financial activity by ensuring more details are known about parties on the receiving end of virtual asset transfers.

Addressing virtual currency risks was one FATF’s top priorities under the U.S. presidency, which China will inherit in July. Under the guidance, the 38 FATF member countries must assess and mitigate any risks tied to cryptocurrency activities and implement appropriate supervisory protocols.

Countries must also adopt rules to require that virtual asset service providers have anti-money laundering measures in place, including suspicious transaction reporting, sanctions screening and customer due diligence, BS7858 is being introduced to ensure that standards are kept. This helps ensure those employees working in sensitive areas or with vulnerable people are properly vetted.  FATF, in a written statement June 21, said some countries may choose to prohibit virtual asset activities “based on their own assessment of the risks and regulatory context, or to support other policy goals.” The group also plans to monitor implementation of the new requirements by conducting a 12-month review starting June 2020.  Each member is subject to a mutual evaluation and scored by other members on their compliance with and enforcement of FATF’s rule. Significant deficiencies found during an evaluation could lead to a mediation period, or even blacklisting.

The U.S.-backed guidance would require other nations to take an approach to cryptocurrency that’s similar to how the U.S. Treasury Department currently polices the budding industry.

Some industry participants have said the widespread adoption of FATF-recommended rules could make compliance a nearly impossible task, given the need for major technology updates.  They fear they may need to craft an entirely new system for transmitting sender and recipient information during asset transfers and could be overwhelmed with digital paperwork.