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FinCEN ruling on precious metals negotiable certificates of ownership

Mon, Aug 24, 2015

Washington, District Of Columbia

In response to a request from an unnamed company, FinCEN has issued an administrative ruling on whether the operations and transaction services offered by the company make it a money transmitter as defined under the Bank Secrecy Act and implementing regulations. The request indicated:

  • The Company provides Internet-based brokerage services between buyers and sellers of precious metals. Buyers pay sellers directly by check, wire transfer, or Bitcoin.
  • The Company buys and sells precious metals for its own account.
  • The Company holds precious metals in custody for buyers that purchase this service ("Customers"), opening a digital wallet for the Customer and issuing a digital proof of custody (a "digital certificate") that can be linked to the Customer's wallet on the Bitcoin blockchain ledger. The Customer then can trade or exchange its precious metals holdings at the Company by any means it could trade or exchange Bitcoin via the rails of the blockchain ledger.

FinCEN determined that the company would be a money transmitter and a dealer in precious metals, precious stones, or jewels pursuant to FinCEN regulations.

Source:  FinCEN