A virtual currency guidance and advisory issued by the U.S. Treasury Department’s anti-money laundering (AML) unit on June 30, 2021 clarified regulatory expectations, riled some cryptocurrency players and signaled a potential new global standard for combating financial crime.

The statement added that the guidance “does not establish any new regulatory expectations” and “consolidates current FinCEN regulations, guidance and administrative rulings.” FinCEN has broad international reach to any business doing substantive business with U.S. persons and therefore international businesses need to be paying attention if they source cryptocurrency from U.S. exchanges or interact with U.S. consumers.

Any time FinCEN issues an advisory, compliance officers in both banks and virtual currency companies will spend a fair amount of time over the next few days reviewing the advisory in the context of their businesses and customers. Concerns include another round of bank account closures, not because customers are engaging in illegal activity, but because compliance officers and managers lack an understanding of the technology underlying cryptocurrencies as the easy way out rather than invest the time and effort to learn more about the space.

           Although owners of blockchain based investments most commonly hold cryptocurrency, blockchain technology is
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