The U.S. Department of the Treasury (“FinCEN”) issued a Final Rule making non-bank providers of pre-paid financial instruments subject to comprehensive Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) regulations similar to depository institutions.
The regulations affecting “stored value” now use the term “prepaid access” which is more broad and technology-neutral. Though FinCEN has not formally asserted that Bitcoin would fall under prepaid access regulations, earlier contact with the agency referred to bitcoins as a form of stored-value. If correct, then Bitcoin sales to U.S. customers would likely be a regulated activity per this Final Rule.
The new regulations become effective on September 27, 2011, 60 days after its July 29, 2011 date of publication in the Federal Register.
To comply with the Final Rule, providers of prepaid access must register with FinCEN. Because bitcoins are decentralized, it is uncertain who a provider would be. Might every exchanger be considered a provider, for instance?