Money Service Business (MSB) Model and US Regulations

6 mins
February 1, 2024
Money Service Business Model and US Regulations | Machnet Technologies

Money Service Businesses (MSB) are businesses that financial services related to transfer, exchange and management of money. It is a growing sector and it plays a critical role in the global economy by facilitating financial transactions for individuals and businesses. Any business that does one or more of the following are classified as MSBs:

  • Money transmission
  • Currency exchange
  • Check-to-cash
  • Issue or sell travellers checks  
  • Prepaid card services
  • VIrtual currency services

The US government regulates MSBs heavily to prevent money laundering, fraud, terrorist financing and other financial crimes. In this article, we'll explore the MSB model and the US regulations that apply to money transfer businesses. 

Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages and disadvantages of using these services. Read on!  


  • Accessibility: MSBs provide financial services to individuals and businesses that may not have access to traditional banking services. 
  • Convenience: MSBs often offer fast and convenient services for money transfers and other financial transactions.
  • Competitive rates: MSBs may offer more competitive currency exchange and money transfer rates than traditional banks.
  • Speed: Money transfers through MSBs can often be completed quickly, sometimes within minutes or hours, compared to traditional banking methods that may take several days or more.


  • Compliance and fraud risks: MSBs can be vulnerable to fraud and other financial crimes. This is why MSBs are subject to stringent regulatory requirements to prevent money laundering, fraud, and other illicit activities.
  • Higher fees: MSBs may charge higher fees for their services than traditional banks.

While there are potential risks involved in using these services, the benefits can outweigh the risks for many people.

US regulations for MSBs

The US government regulates MSBs heavily to prevent financial crimes such as money laundering and terrorist financing. MSBs are required to comply with specific regulations, including:

  • Registration with FinCEN: MSBs must register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and obtain a unique identifier known as a FinCEN registration number (FRN).
  • Anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) policies: MSBs must implement policies and procedures to prevent money laundering and other financial crimes. This includes conducting customer due diligence, monitoring transactions for suspicious activity, and reporting suspicious activity to the authorities.
  • Record-keeping requirements: MSBs must maintain records of transactions and other related information for a certain period of time.
  • Reporting suspicious activity(SAR): MSBs must report suspicious activity to the authorities in a timely manner.

These regulations are crucial for preventing financial crimes and ensuring the integrity of the financial system. By requiring MSBs to comply with these regulations, the US government is able to monitor and track financial transactions and detect potential criminal activity.

Federal and state level regulations

In general, MSBs are regulated at both the federal and state level. The federal government regulates MSBs through the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and the USA PATRIOT Act, which requires MSBs to implement anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) policies, report suspicious activity to the authorities, and maintain records of transactions and related information.

At the state level, MSBs are typically regulated by state banking departments or financial services regulators. States may require MSBs to obtain a license or registration to operate and may have specific requirements for AML and KYC policies, reporting suspicious activity, and record-keeping.

To explore MSB regulations in individual states, you can consult the following resources that is readily available in following reference databases:

Money Transfer Operators (MTOs) and MTLs 

Companies that are engaged in transmitting money are a specific type of Money Service Business. These companies require Money Transmitter Licenses (MTLs) to legally move money, and applying for an MTL is a tedious process. 

Machnet specializes in helping MTOs that are looking to start their money transfer business from the US. Machnet’s platform has a wide network of payout countries, which means operators that wish to move money from US to any of the 100+ countries in our network. Contact our team of experts to learn more. 

Schedule a meeting
Thank You!
Your message was received and our team will contact you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Read our other Blogs.