565 West Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60661
Thank you, Clay Porter, for that wonderful introduction.
I am delighted to be here today. Thank you for having me.
I am excited to dive into the fireside chat. But before I do, I would like to anchor the conversation with some brief benchmarks in FinCEN’s approach to virtual currency and emerging technology.
I think it is important, particularly for me in my role as a regulator, that when I take the time to give a speech, or appear on a panel or give a presentation, I have something meaningful or important to say, and that I am clear about what it is that I am saying.
Purpose, clarity, and transparency are important, particularly in what we do.
1) So first, I want to discuss how FinCEN is approaching virtual currency and financial innovation;
2) Second, I want to discuss the value of Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) filings we receive from financial institutions, including exchangers in virtual currencies. This information is critical to our mission of keeping our country strong, our financial system secure, and our families and communities safe from harm.
Virtual Currencies and Innovation
Let me begin with our approach to virtual currency.
Innovation in financial services can be a great thing—providing customers greater access to an array of financial services and at faster speeds than ever before. However, as industry evolves and adopts these new technologies, we also must be cognizant that financial crime evolves right along with it, or indeed sometimes because of it, creating opportunities for criminals and bad actors, including terrorists and rogue states.
Virtual currency is an example of both aspects. Major money services businesses are looking at how to incorporate blockchain payments to expedite remittances to locations around the world. But like any payment system or medium of exchange, virtual currency has the potential to be exploited for money laundering and other illicit finance.
Nobody here today wants to see innovative products and services misused to support terrorism, facilitate child exploitation, or become another vehicle for criminals to carry out fraud, identity theft, corruption, or extortion. There are already too many victims out there who may never be made whole again, and harm can be done with devastatingly increasing speed, breadth, and obscurity in the digital world.
The BSA and its regulations are designed to guard against these threats, but these laws and regulations can only do so much on their own. Compliance with our anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) framework is critical to protecting our financial system and safeguarding the incredible innovations within the FinTech space.
Our role at FinCEN is to protect and secure our financial system from those who seek to misuse important technological advancements for nefarious purposes—harming victims while undermining trust in our financial system upon which innovation and our country prosper.