21/04/2022 Alexander

The state of Travel Rule

You could have missed some important news over Xmass and New Year. One very important thing is that Coinone requires transfers to be done on KYC-ed addresses (sic!)

It looks like Korea is adopting the FATF standards more rapidly than other countries, which is likely part of that effort. Alternatively, CoinOne could be in the middle of a money-laundering investigation, and this may be an olive branch or remediation as a step to head off worse pain.

The travel rule already applies in the US – but only to transactions between regulated entities (i.e. hosted wallets).

In December 2020, in the closing days of the Trump administration, in an almost desperate act, FinCEN proposed a rule that would require Banks and MSBs to identify and verify hosted wallet customers who engage in transactions with unhosted or otherwise covered wallet counterparties when those customers conduct transactions above the equivalent of $3,000 in crypto with an unhosted or otherwise covered wallet counterparty (with reporting required for transactions over $10,000), and that banks and MSBs collect certain information (i.e. name and physical address) concerning the customer’s counterparties.

While it may appear that the Biden administration put the initiative on hold, it is worth noting that many of the Treasury and FinCEN staffers who worked on the December 23 proposal are still in place. Thus the lack of inaction should not be taken as an indication that they are loosing interest. Obviously, FATF is still focused on the issue and, as you know, the US plays an outsized role in FATF. Also, I the administration has been preoccupied with stablecoins – at least since late May 2021 and they will have to address unhosted wallets in this context as well.

In short, the need for the travel rule to capture info on holders of unhosted wallets has been supplanted by this new CTR like requirement that will necessitate the capture of basic customer information on every transaction over $10k. They may come back to the Funds Transfer Rule/Travel Rule for transactions below that amount, but this CTR like rule is a ‘good start’.