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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FATF updates virtual assets and service provider guidance

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FATF Virtual Currency Of Interest to Non-US Persons Anti-Money Laundering Combating the Financing of Terrorism Financial Crimes

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

In March, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) updated pre-existing guidance on its risk-based approach to virtual assets (VAs) and virtual asset service providers (VASPs). The draft updated guidance revises guidance originally released June 2019, wherein FATF members agreed to regulate and supervise virtual asset financial activities and related service providers (covered by InfoBytes here) and place anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations on VAs and VASPs. According to FATF, the revisions “aim to maintain a level playing field for VASPs, based on the financial services they provide in line with existing standards applicable to financial institutions and other AML/CFT-obliged entities, as well as minimizing the opportunity for regulatory arbitrage between sectors and countries.” The revisions provide updated guidance in six main areas intended to:

  • Clarify VA and VASP definitions to make it clear that these definitions are expansive and that “there should not be a case where a relevant financial asset is not covered by the FATF Standards (either as a VA or as a traditional financial asset)”;
  • Provide guidance on how FATF Standards apply to so-called stablecoins;
  • Provide further guidance on risks and potential risk mitigants for peer-to-peer transactions;
  • Provide updated guidance on VASP licensing and registration requirements;
  • Provide additional guidance for public and private sectors on the implementation of the “travel rule”; and
  • Include principles of information sharing and cooperation among VASP supervisors.

FATF intends to consult private sector stakeholders before finalizing the revisions, and is separately considering implementing revised FATF Standards on VAs and VASPs—as well as whether further updates are necessary—through a second 12-month review.

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