Atrium Legal Lab

Canada MSB License
Money Services Business Registration

5 top places to become a Payment Services Provider
Money Services Businesses (MSB)

An Excellent Alternative to
European EMI license
Canada MSB
Money Service Business License

To establish an MSB in Canada it is required acquiring a specific license from FINTRAC, a regulatory authority of the country regulating a Canadian financial market.

Below you gathered all main points related to money service businesses: authorizations, requirements, the specter of regulation, and due diligence obligations.

Set up your Fintech project in Canada

To launch your fintech project and provide payment services you need permission or authorisation to perform these operations.

Canadian Money Services Business (MSB) license is one of the several options you can decide for, to register your payment business and start operating immediately.

Obtaining an EMI license in any of the EU countries or in the UK is a very long and expensive process; it can take over 12 up to 18 months. At least you will need 3 to 4 months to prepare documents, 9 to 12 months to get authorisation from the regulator, 4 to 6 months to actually launch your basic fintech infrastructure. Reason why new entrepreneurs are usually forced to look for alternative options to start a fintech company – faster than obtaining an authorised PI or EMI license.

There are several options, including to operate as an agent under the umbrella of a licensed provider, to register as a small payment institution or, as a 3rd option, applying for a Canadian Money Services Business (MSB) license.

Who is an MSB or FMSC person or entity?

A person or entity is an MSB or FMSB if engaged in the business of providing any of the following services:

Foreign exchange dealing (conducting transactions where one fiat currency is exchanged for another fiat currency);

Remitting or transmitting funds by any means or through any person, entity or electronic funds transfer network;

Dealing in virtual currency, which includes both virtual currency exchange and value transfer services; or any prescribed service.

What is a Canadian MSB license?

This is a registration in a special register of businesses providing payment services, which is maintained by the Canadian regulator, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada – FINTRAC, Canada’s financial intelligence unit (FIU). The Centre assists in the detection, prevention and deterrence of money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities.

Money Services Business (MSBs) must fulfil specific obligations as required by the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and associated Regulations, to help combat money laundering and terrorist activity financing in Canada.

What a Canadian MSB license can offer you!

MSB is a non-bank financial institution that allows carrying out the following types of financial activities:

If you work in the money services business (MSB), you need to know about all the obligations that apply to you. This includes the registration of your business, reporting, record maintenance, knowing your customers and having a compliance program.

For individuals engaged in the money services business (MSB), it is essential to be aware of the obligations applicable to them. These responsibilities encompass business registration, reporting, record-keeping, understanding customer profiles, and establishing a comprehensive compliance program. An entity qualifies as a money services business (MSB) if it meets the following criteria:

  • Offers at least one MSB service.
  • Maintains a place of business in Canada.
  • Latest Approved MSB Activities by FINTRAC

    Foreign Exchange Dealing

    Executing transactions involving the exchange of one currency for another,such as converting USD to CAD.

    Money Transferring

    Conducting fund transfers between individuals or organizations through electronic funds transfer networks or alternative methods like Hawala, Hundi, Fei chien, and Chitti.

    Merchant Acquiring

    Facilitating clients to accept card payments using a point-of-sale (POS) terminal or an online payment gateway page.

    Dealing in Virtual Currencies

    This encompasses both virtual currency exchange and virtual currency transfer services, where: Virtual currency exchange involves swapping funds for virtual currency, virtual currency for funds, or virtual currency for another virtual currency. Virtual currency transfer services include transferring virtual currency upon client request or receiving virtual currency transfers for remittance to a beneficiary. The recent Canadian legislation, effective since early June 2020, officially recognizes crypto-exchanges and payment operators dealing with cryptocurrencies as financial service providers.

    Crowdfunding Platform

    Providing and maintaining a crowdfunding platform for use by other individuals or entities to raise funds or virtual currency for themselves or specified persons/entities.

    Payment Service Provider

    Enabling fund transfers for goods and services payment, such as through debit cards, credit cards, or prepaid payment products.

    No capital requirement, no annual registration fees.

    If you work in the money services business (MSB), you need to know about all the obligations that apply to you. This includes the registration of your business, reporting, record maintenance, knowing your customers and having a compliance program.

    Benefits of MSB license in Canada
    Benefits of MSB License in Canada
    MSB Canada does not require a cash deposit

    Among the requirements for obtaining an MSB license in Canada there are no special amount for Authorized capital. This is a huge benefit compared to EMI licenses in some EU countries where the capital of your company must be 350 000 euros, but it is advisable to deposit and pay a certain amount of the authorized capital in order to show the regulator the seriousness of intentions for business planning and development.

    Canada’s financial and banking system

    Canada’s financial and banking system is considered one of the most reliable in the world and it has one of the best environments for business as itself. Canada now has the 9th largest economy in the world and is considered one of the best places to start a business with an environment and tax system that is in place for healthy and stable business growth and development. The payment systems in Canada, as well as the banks, play an important role in the financial sector. The government of Canada set fairly loyal requirements for the companies intending to provide financial services, thereby attracting not only local citizens but also foreigners in the development of the financial sector. These are the main reasons why you should obtain the MSB (money service business) license in Canada.

    Faster than other licenses

    The process of obtaining the MSB license in Canada may take from 2 to 3 months. This is quite fast compared to another financial licenses you can get in Europe. For example, the service time for obtaining an EMI-license in some European country is usually from 6 month till 1 year. The time you will spend on bureaucracy, you can use for developing your business instead. This is another compelling reason why you should obtain MSB license in Canada.

    Requirements for MSB application

    Company name – must contain at least two words, one of them should describe the main business activity of the company, for example, “payments”, “remittance” etc. Abbreviations are not accepted.

    Registered address – for companies managed and owned by a non-resident of Canada the most convenient province for company formation in British Columbia with a commercial address in Vancouver.

    Capital – minimum capital is not determined by the supervising authority, but it is advisable to deposit and pay a certain amount of the authorized capital in order to show the regulator the seriousness of intentions for business planning and development.

    Management – at least one director private person with experience in the financial sphere has to be appointed at the stage of incorporation, and a qualified compliance officer as well as a sound AML/CFT program and compliance system should be appointed and in place at the stage of starting operational activity of the company. Directors and AML responsible people do not have to be local if the company is registered in British Colombia or Ontario.

    Compliance reporting – a company registered with FINTRAC has to complete reports about certain types of transactions according to the developed internal compliance program, reports include information about suspicious transactions, electronic fund transfer reaching specific limits, large cash transactions reaching specific limits, terrorist property.

    Ownership – at least one person (legal or private).

    Note: If required, we can provide compliance officer services in order to meet the requirements.
    How to register and run the Money Services Business (MSB)? Timeline

    Atrium Legal Lab will complete your Canada company registration within 1 week after receiving required documents.

    Our Business Development Team will draft the business plan and AML/CFT policy within 2 weeks.

    Thereafter, we will submit the license application to FINTRAC and attain the license within 4 weeks.

    Once the license is attained, Atrium’s banking team will work on corporate bank account opening immediately.

    On average, the engagement will be completed within around 3 to 4 months.


    How do you report to FINTRAC?

    Reporting entities can send their reports electronically to FINTRAC provided if you own the technical capabilities to do so. However, terrorist property report or where technical capabilities are not met for the other reports can be submitted in written.

    What are the deadlines for the various reports?

    The deadlines differ from reports to reports. For electronic funds transfer reports, they should be sent no later than 5 working days to FINTRAC. For suspicious transaction reports, they should be sent no later than 30 calendar days from where it can be determined with reasonable suspicion that the attempted transaction is possibly part of a financial crime. As for large cash transaction and casino disbursement reports, they should be submitted no later than 15 calendar days.

    What will happen to the reports I submit?

    The reports submitted will be carefully analyzed by FINTRAC to evaluate whether there are any possible threats of financial crimes. Each report is retained for 10 years by FINTRAC.

    Will any fees be charged during reporting?

    FINTRAC does not charge any fees – be it during registration, or further to file a report.

    Is reporting incomplete suspicious financial transaction necessary?

    Yes, you must still report an attempted transaction if you have sufficient evidence to back up or suspect that it is a possible case of financial crime.

    Must I report any terrorist property to other authorities?

    Yes, under the Criminal Code, you are mandated to relay any of such information or transaction to the RCMP, Anti-Terrorist Financing Team and CSIS Financing Unit.

    Does FINTRAC freeze funds?

    No, FINTRAC does not freeze or seize any funds.

    Will the privacy of my clients be protected?

    The Privacy Act strictly regulates how FINTRAC can use and disclose information collected during reporting. This means that the personal information collected from you will be protected from any unauthorized disclosure and can only be disclosed where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the transaction is possibly linked to a financial crime.

    What are the penalties involved?

    An administrative monetary penalty will be issued for any non-compliance cases. However, it is to note that the penalty is not the first solution to non-compliance. Rather, FINTRAC will work together with you to correct the non-compliant behavior before considering charging any penalty.

    What is the difference between a civil and criminal penalty charged?

    Under the PCMLTFA, both penalties apply but are meant for differing purposes. A criminal penalty is mainly adopted to punish any wrongdoing and will include fines, imprisonment or both. While an administrative monetary penalty is used strictly against compliance violations. It will involve an incentive to take up corrective actions. FINTRAC will not be able to concurrently pursue both punishments.

    Our Services

    Project management

    This service assures our support and guidance throughout the process of obtaining your MSB registration approval, including the setup of a new company in Canada in any of the 10 Canadian provinces, except Quebec (which requires a separate and distinct registration with the AMF). A member of the Pay Compliance team will be present at the FINTRAC interview and help guide you through the process. One of the main advantages to acquiring a Canadian MSB license is the short licensing process (3-4 months).

    Corporate concierge

    From corporate changes to certifications to authorisations to reports – we will deal with every local requirement for you, so that you can focus on the operations.

    Compliance support

    We will provide a full compliance support to you including design/upgrade of policies, procedures, questionnaires, and forms to meet regulatory requirements; support client on-boarding, AML, and KYC checks; liaise with regulators during regulatory examinations, investigations, and post examination remediation; Ad hoc compliance advice, regular compliance reviews, personalised one-to-one training, handling of all correspondence and statutory filings with regulators.

    Compliance programme

    o comply with the Canadian regulation, a compliance program must be put in place for your company, which will be reviewed by FINTRAC. We can offer a written AML/CFT compliance program that meets Canadian and international standards customised for your business operations.

    Risk assessment

    We will prepare your risk assessment by considering elements of your business, clients and/or business relationships to identify the impact of possible ML/TF risks, and to apply controls and measures to mitigate these risks.

    Clear banking

    We will prepare your risk assessment by considering elements of your business, clients and/or business relationships to identify the impact of possible ML/TF risks, and to apply controls and measures to mitigate these risks.

    Compliance officer recruitment

    As all companies require a Compliance Officer, we will offer support in connecting clients with qualified and experienced candidates who will be equipped with the necessary knowledge about the Act and its associated regulations to ensure that your business remains compliant.

    Next steps

    If you are interested in setting up a Canada MSB business, kindly call or email us. We shall be pleased and ready to guide and assist you, answering all your questions and matters you may need to clarify.

    Licensing Services
    Our Company Services
    Services we DO and Services we DO NOT DO

    Our company is EXCLUSIVELY engaged in assisting worldwide clients, either individuals or corporate entities, to get duly and properly registered and licensed with local Regulators and Financial Authorities to get respective official licenses to legally carry out their cryptocurrency business activities.

    Atrium Legal Lab does not carry out any sort of cryptocurrency business trade or financial service!

    Should you have an enquiry
    You would like to discuss with us
    You can either call or email us.

    One of our Customer Representatives will be most pleased to help and assist you

    Send us your message Now!
    Legal disclaimer

    The information and materials contained in this website do not constitute an offer, invitation, solicitation, advice or recommendation to buy the products and services offered and rendered by Atrium Legal Lab and shall be applied with prior consultation.

    Atrium Legal Lab does not offer legal or tax advice without consultation with certified professionals with related appropriate skill and expertise.

    The information contained in this website is for general guidance on matters of interest only and should not be considered as guidance for financial or tax decisions, or a substitute for specific professional consultation.

    Atrium Legal Lab is not a bank, nor does it provide banking services. Atrium Legal Lab offers international company formation, corporate administration services, and bank/broker introductory services and account opening assistance.

    This website is only used for promotional marketing purposes of Atrium Legal Lab and is not intended to portray that this is the site of a bank. All prospective clients should consult a properly qualified tax professional in their own country to determine their own tax implications prior to embarking on any strategy described in this website. Since laws in each country are different, constantly change and can be subject to different interpretations by courts of law, any information herein regarding tax minimization needs to be verified by such competent counsel. While we have made every effort to ensure that the information contained in this website is accurate and correct due to constant changes in laws, rules and regulations Atrium Legal Lab Ltd accepts no liability for any loss or damage arising directly or indirectly from action taken or not taken relying on the information contained in this website. In particular no warranty is given as to the completeness, accuracy, reliability of such information and as to whether it is at all times up to date.

    Atrium Legal Lab accepts no liability for any loss or damage direct or indirectly arising from the application of any information contained in this website, including any loss, damage or expenses arising from, but not limited to, any defect, error, mistake, inaccuracy, reliability of this website, its contents or related services, or due to any unavailability of this Site or any part thereof of any contents or related services.

    Notice About Restricted Customers / Citizens

    Due to our internal policies to prevent fraudulent activities or violations of our internal AML policies we are regretting that we do not provide consultations, email support, on-boarding activities and customer care to all OECD black listed countries and their citizens / entities.