Virtual currency, also known as digital currency or cryptocurrency, is a type of currency that exists in digital form and can be used to make online transactions. Virtual currency operates independently of a central bank or government and can be exchanged for other currencies or goods and services.
A virtual currency can be “made” through a process called mining, which involves using computer power to solve complex mathematical problems in order to validate transactions on the virtual currency’s underlying blockchain. It can also be bought and sold on various digital currency exchanges. It is decentralized, meaning it is not controlled by a central authority, it operates through a network of computers that work together to validate transactions and maintain the integrity of the currency.
Some examples of virtual currencies include:
- Bitcoin Cash
Financial regulators who might regulate virtual currencies include:
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
- The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
Virtual currencies can be used in a variety of ways, including:
- Online shopping and purchases
- Online money transfers
- Online gambling
- Investment opportunities
- Payment for goods and services
- peer-to-peer money transfer
- Cryptocurrency trading
- Storing value
- Incentives and rewards in various online platforms.
It is important to note that while virtual currencies have the potential to offer many benefits, they also carry risks, such as increased opportunities for money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit activities, and they are highly speculative and not backed by any assets. Therefore, it is important for users to understand the risks involved and to exercise caution when using virtual currencies.
Virtual currencies, as a form of digital assets, are associated with money services business (MSB) as they can be used as a medium of exchange, and as such, they are subject to the same regulations and compliance requirements as traditional money services.
Virtual currency businesses, such as exchanges, wallets, and payment processors, are required to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations. These regulations are designed to prevent money laundering and other financial crimes by requiring businesses to verify the identity of their customers and to report suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.
In order to comply with AML and KYC regulations, virtual currency businesses are required to implement specific policies, procedures, and controls to identify and mitigate risks. These can include measures such as customer identification and verification, transaction monitoring, and suspicious activity reporting.
KYB (Know Your Business) is also an important compliance aspect. Virtual currency businesses are also required to conduct due diligence on their business partners, vendors, and other third parties to ensure that they are not involved in illicit activities and that they are operating in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
One example of a compliance program is the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidelines for virtual assets service providers (VASPs) which provide clear guidance on how VASPs should comply with AML and CFT (Counter-Terrorist Financing) regulations.
In addition to AML and KYC compliance, virtual currency businesses may also be subject to other regulatory requirements, such as capitalization, cyber security, and record-keeping.
It is important to note that these compliance requirements are subject to change over time and are different in different countries and regions, thus virtual currency businesses must keep themselves informed and updated with the regulatory changes.
This page was last updated on January 28, 2023.