A wood and gold gavel on top of $100 bills

FinCEN Exchange in New York City Focuses on Virtual Currency

WASHINGTON—On May 3, 2019 representatives from virtual currency money transmitters and other money services businesses, third-party service providers, federal government agencies, a federal task force, and several depository institutions gathered at a FinCEN Exchange session in New York City to discuss the threats and opportunities presented by virtual currencies. The FinCEN Exchange is a voluntary program established in 2017 created by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to convene law enforcement and financial institutions from across the country to share information. FinCEN Exchange topics generally include methods to identify vulnerabilities, disrupt terrorist and proliferation financing, and guard against other financial crimes.

Sharing information through these public-private partnerships supports more, and higher-quality, reports to FinCEN and assists law enforcement in detecting, preventing, and prosecuting terrorism, organized crime, money laundering, and other financial crimes. Sharing information also assists the financial institutions in prioritizing their efforts. One of FinCEN’s top priorities is strengthening public-private partnerships to reveal and mitigate threats and vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system.

“Taking advantage of FinCEN’s mandate from Congress to foster appropriate information flow between and among financial sector actors and the government is particularly important in fast moving areas such as virtual currency, where law enforcement and industry can both provide each other with greater context for the types of transactions each is seeing,” said FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco. “This FinCEN Exchange represents the type of targeted engagement with industry that further enhances the value of BSA reporting, while also helping to identify and address newer methodologies of bad actors.”

Several important topics were raised during the session, including; methods to increase public-private collaboration and efficiency; best practices for Bank Secrecy Act compliance and reporting; and initiatives and challenges facing the private sector related to anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

Private sector participation in FinCEN Exchange is strictly voluntary, and the program does not introduce any new regulatory requirements. It also does not replace or otherwise affect existing mechanisms by which law enforcement engages directly with the financial industry. It is part of Treasury’s broader objective of strengthening the anti-money laundering framework by encouraging, enabling, and acknowledging more regular industry focus on high-value and high-impact activities.