Conducting transactions with a money services business
From: Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)
Information for consumers about FINTRAC’s role in regulating money services businesses and how to remain vigilant when deciding to use the services of this type of business.
On this page
- What is a money services business or foreign money services business
- How FINTRAC regulates money services businesses
- Why money services businesses register with FINTRAC
- Do your research before using the services of a money services business
- Accessing your funds
- Protect yourself from fraud
- Related links
What is a money services business or foreign money services business
A money services business has a place of business in Canada, whereas a foreign money services business does not have a place of business in Canada, but directs and provides services to its clients in Canada.
Both money services businesses and foreign money services businesses provide at least 1 of the following services to consumers:
- foreign exchange dealing
- remitting funds or transmitting funds
- issuing or redeeming money orders, traveller's cheques or other similar negotiable instruments (except for cheques payable to a named person or entity)
- dealing in virtual currencies
- crowdfunding platform services
How FINTRAC regulates money services businesses
FINTRAC ensures the compliance of money services businesses and foreign money services businesses with their obligations under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (the Act). This includes:
- registering with FINTRAC
- reporting certain transactions
- keeping records
- knowing their clients, and
- having a compliance program
FINTRAC does not regulate money services businesses and foreign money services businesses beyond the framework of the Act and cannot offer any assessment of their business practices, nor assist consumers conducting transactions with money services businesses. This includes any situation where a money services business withholds client funds or otherwise limits access to these funds, or blocks an account.
FINTRAC does not have the authority to:
- issue licenses to businesses it regulates
- approve, cancel or delay financial transactions
- freeze or seize funds
- ask any entity to freeze or seize funds
- access customer accounts
- issue clearance certificates
- help recover funds
Why money services businesses register with FINTRAC
Money services businesses operating in Canada, and foreign money services businesses that direct and provide services to clients in Canada, must register with FINTRAC. Operating an unregistered money services business is a violation and an offence under the Act.
The registration does not indicate that FINTRAC endorses or licenses the business. Rather, it indicates only that the business has fulfilled the legal requirement to register with the federal government.
You will find information on registered money services businesses in our Money services business registry. FINTRAC cannot provide further information on a money services business other than what is made publicly available in the Registry.
Note: Keep in mind that FINTRAC’s Money services business registry begins with “www10” as it is an application FINTRAC created to house certain money services business registration information.
A registration with FINTRAC can be denied or revoked if the money services business:
A list of money services businesses with revoked registration is available on this website.
If you suspect individuals or businesses are operating as unregistered money services businesses or foreign money services businesses, you may wish to submit voluntary information to FINTRAC anonymously.
Do your research before using the services of a money services business
You should be diligent and do proper research when deciding to use the services of a money services business. Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions associated with the services you are considering.
If you are transferring funds to and from different jurisdictions, you can protect yourself by dealing only with financial institutions and reputable registered money services businesses.
Accessing your funds
FINTRAC cannot assist consumers conducting transactions with money services businesses, nor help customers access or recover funds.
If you are unable to access your funds, you should:
- contact the business you are dealing with or your financial institution on what steps need to be taken
- consult the Canadian Securities Administrators as some provincial and territories securities regulators also have regulatory mandates relating to certain money services businesses
- contact a consumer protection office in your province: Federal, provincial and territorial Consumer Affairs offices
Protect yourself from fraud
- Beware of unsolicited phone calls, texts, emails or social media messages requesting personal information, and advertisements or offers that sound too good to be true.
- Do not share bank account details or other personal information with third parties.
- Immediately report any unusual transactions to your financial institution.
- If you believe that you are a victim of fraud, contact your local police of jurisdiction for information and guidance. You can also report attempts of fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canada's central repository for data, intelligence and resource material as it relates to fraud.
FINTRAC will not contact members of the general public in any way to obtain financial or other personal information. Any contact made to the general public by a person claiming to be a representative of FINTRAC should be considered suspicious.
- Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
- Money services business registry
- Money services businesses with revoked registration
- Fraud alert – misrepresentation and false communications
- Voluntary information
- Canadian Securities Administrators
- Federal, provincial and territorial Consumer Affairs offices
- Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
- Date Modified: