1. Fintech and Crypto Law
Fintech law is critical at the ideation, implementation and growth periods of every payments business. Simple advice on a business model can mean the difference between a path to growth or regulatory purgatory.
By way of example, our firm assisted in clarifying perhaps the most important question of the decade under U.S. law: is an ISO or payment processor a money services business (MSB) under the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act? When done right, it is not, as determined by FinCEN in 2014.
Our firm has also led in creating new rules related to the governance of crypto, including, for example, FinCEN’s guidance on virtual currency trading platforms.
By providing creative and robust regulatory guidance at all stages of a payments business, our firm leads in supporting some of the most advanced and successful payments models today.
Adam Atlas provides expert testimony in U.S. and other trials concerning payment processing and other payments-related norms and customs.
2. TPP / PayFac / PSP / ISO / Agent Agreements
Banks have opted to outsource the business of recruiting new merchants to offer them credit card and debit card processing services. Independent Sales Organizations (ISO) and Independent Sales Representatives (ISR) enter into agreements with processors and banks to recruit new merchants. The firm advises on about one hundred such relationships per year. The advice includes negotiating key processor agreements, drafting agent and referral agreements, advising on acquisitions and financing as well as support in disputes. The firm has cultivated strong relationships working opposite all major US acquiring processors and banks and leverages those relationships to provide practical and efficient advice for ISOs and ISRs.
3. MSB Licensing VCB Licensing and Compliance
Money transmitters, virtual currency businesses, foreign exchange dealers and other money services businesses (MSB) are held to a higher standard of compliance and are often required to register in the US with FinCEN as well as with state banking departments. With the advent of new applications, the obligation to register is not as obvious as it was for traditional money transmitters. Here, the firm draws on its experience advising numerous payments models, to support MSBs in sorting through registration issues. The firm powers the popular MSB Blog as part of its compliance practice. Below is a map of state MSB regulators maintained by our firm:
4. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Policy Drafting
AML policies are required for most MSBs, and recommended by the firm for all payments businesses so as to reduce the chance of unwittingly assisting in money laundering or the financing of terrorism. The firm regularity drafts AML policies for payments businesses. In contrast with compliance consultants that draft such policies, the firm brings its payments market experience into AML policies to tailor them to the specific risk profiles of the business model in question.
As a complement to AML policies, the firm also drafts company security policies, including those for acceptable use, backups, confidential data, data classification, email, employee screening, encryption, incident response, mobile devices, network access & authentication, network security, new account setup, outsourcing, passwords, physical security, remote access, retention, and wireless access.
5. Payments, Crypto and DeFi Business Consulting
Having seen thousands of payments models, the firm takes the liberty of offering business consulting advice on how to structure new payments businesses. Basic questions as to which party should pay for a given transaction or carry the risk may be pivoted to dramatically increase the value of a business. The firm is recognized as being dramatically creative in delivering new ideas to businesses and enriching the organic evolution of clients.
6. Community Service
The firm has an ongoing commitment to pro bono service. The flagship community service program of the firm is to provide free legal advice to ISO and other payments widows. As ISO owners age, their spouses are sometimes left inheriting businesses that they do not know how to operate. Widows in that situation are welcome to seek free advice on a portfolio sale or on protecting the residual streams to which they are entitled.
Adam Atlas serves in a volunteer capacity as a leader board member of community organizations.