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Stablecoin Compliance Guidelines

Stablecoin issuers are responsible for complying with local regulations and reporting to the appropriate agencies. Regulations vary by country and state, but may include the reporting and compliance requirements described in the following sections. Before issuing a token, you should seek professional legal advice on the requirements for your jurisdiction and use case. The following resources may be useful background reading.

Know Your Customer (KYC)

Know Your Customer (KYC) refers to due diligence activities conducted by a financial institution to determine and verify the identity of its customers to prevent use of the institution for criminal activity. Criminal activity in financial terms may include money laundering, terrorist financing, financial fraud, and identity theft. Customers may be individuals, intermediaries, or businesses.

The KYC process generally aims to:

  • Identify the customer (and, in the case of organizations and businesses, any beneficial owners)

  • Understand the purpose and intended nature of the business relationship

  • Understand the expected transaction activity.

KYC is critical for financial institutions and related businesses to mitigate risk, especially legal and reputational risk. Having an inadequate or nonexistent KYC program may result in civil and criminal penalties for the institution or individual employees.

See also:

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT)

Money laundering is the process of moving illegal funds by disguising the source, nature or ownership so that funds can be legally accessed or distributed via legitimate financial channels and credible institutions. In short, it is converting “dirty money” into “clean money.” Anti-Money Laundering (AML) refers to the laws and procedures designed to stop money laundering from occurring.

Terrorist financing is the solicitation, collection, or provision of funds to organizations engaged in terrorist activity or organizations that support terrorism and its proliferation. Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) refers to the process of identifying, reporting, and blocking flows of funds used to finance terrorism.

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Source of Funds

To prevent illicit funds from passing through their systems, financial institutions must be able to determine within reason if the source of a customer’s funds is linked to criminal activity.

Determining the exact source of funds for every customer may not be administratively feasible. As a result, some regulatory authorities may not provide specific regulation or guidance for all accounts. In specific cases, however, authorities may require financial institutions to identify and report the source of funds. Guidance by the FATF recommends that where the risks of money laundering or terrorist financing are higher (commonly referred to as a “risk-based approach”), financial institutions conduct enhanced due diligence, including but not limited to determining the customer’s source of funds.

Suspicious Activity Reporting

If a financial institution suspects that funds may be related to criminal activity, the institution must file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) with the appropriate regulatory authority. Failure to report suspicious activity may result in in penalties for the institution.

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Travel Rule

The Travel Rule is a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) rule requiring funds-transmitting financial institutions to forward certain information to the next financial institution if the funds transmittal equals or exceeds the USD equivalent of $3,000. The following information must be included in the transmittal order:

  • The name of the transmittor,
  • The account number of the transmittor, if used,
  • The address of the transmittor,
  • The identity of the transmittor's financial institution,
  • The amount of the transmittal order,
  • The execution date of the transmittal order, and
  • The identity of the recipient's financial institution.

See also:

Fee Disclosure and Tracing Funds

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is an agency of the US Department of Treasury that administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions in support of U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives. All U.S. persons and U.S. incorporated entities and their foreign branches must follow OFAC regulations. Under OFAC regulations, U.S. financial institutions are prohibited—unless authorized by OFAC or expressly exempted by statute—from conducting transactions and other dealings with individuals, entities, or countries under sanctions or embargo programs administered and enforced by OFAC.

See also:

Guidance on Virtual Currency and Money Service Business