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What is a Money Services Business (MSB)?

Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), defines MSBs as businesses that engage in any of the following activities:


  1. Money transmission services: Transfer funds or value on behalf of others. Examples include remittance companies, digital payment platforms, and certain virtual currency exchanges.

  2. Prepaid access/stored value services: Business that issues prepaid access devices, such as prepaid debit cards or electronic wallets, that can be used to access funds stored on the device.

  3. Check cashing services: Business engaged in cashing checks, including traveler's checks, money orders, and cashier's checks, for a fee.

  4. Currency exchange services: Providing services to exchange one form of currency to another.

  5. Issuing or selling traveler's checks, money orders, or stored value products: Issue or sell financial instruments such as traveler's checks, money orders, or prepaid access/stored value products.

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Relationship between an MSB and MTL

MSB registration with FinCEN does not grant you a license to start operating

  • MSB is a broader classification term for financial service providers

  • A money transmitter license (MTL) must be obtained to transmit money in the US, such as checks, drafts, and wire transfers


The United States does not have a single registration money transmitter license.

  • Each state has its own licensing requirement

  • Big 3 MTL license: New York, California, and Texas are the most difficult states to acquire a license

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Please see below the full presentation we've put together on this topic.

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