Canadian MSB License: pioneering financial opportunities - YB Case 2024

Canadian MSB License: pioneering financial opportunities

Canadian MSB License: pioneering financial opportunities
In the domain of Canadian finance, the MSB license unveils an authorized gateway to partake in money transfer services, emblematic of the evolving financial landscape. This credential, accessible for application since 2020, carries profound significance as Canada emerges as a central locus within the North American financial arena, proudly asserting its position as the world's 9th largest economy. The financial sector plays an instrumental role in propelling the nation's economic advancement, a narrative interwoven with growth and prosperity.

The Canadian financial technology ecosystem thrives unbridled, extending its reach to encompass an expansive spectrum of financial offerings. The exclusive privilege of a Canadian MSB license is reserved exclusively for domestic entities, while foreign establishments aspiring to provide services must obtain a coveted Canadian FMSB license.

Within this discourse, we elucidate the legal foundations and unlock the pathway to acquiring the esteemed Money Service Business license within the Canadian landscape.

Advantages of the Canadian MSB jurisdiction: a tapestry of promise

Embarking upon the Canadian financial terrain unfurls a tapestry of opportunities that beckon investors. Rooted in a legislative framework aligned with global transparency standards, the jurisdiction stands as a stronghold of investor and consumer rights, a haven of integrity. Amidst the rapid crescendo of the Canadian economy, boundless avenues for enterprise unfurl.

The financial sector stands as a rallying point, fortified by governmental support, housing a mosaic of financial virtuosos who are erudite, multilingual, and culturally diverse. These attributes magnetize foreign investors, casting a spotlight on the acquisition of the MSB license as a gateway to the Canadian market.

Moreover, the allure extends to stable sociopolitical landscapes and vibrant innovation ecosystems, fertile grounds for business expansion. As the nucleus of technology giants, robust financial institutions, and adept talents, Canada's prominence as a global sanctuary for enterprise finds validation.

Diverging from international counterparts, Canadian banks stand as pillars of trust for an international clientele, forming the foundation for fintech ventures to flourish. This bedrock of virtues underpins the strategic determination to attain the MSB license, revealing the portal to Canadian aspirations.

Favorable enclaves for aspiring MSB license holders

Canada's financial resilience is evident, securing an esteemed position within the upper echelons of the G20's stable economies. The intellectual prowess of its workforce resonates as a potent competitive advantage. The nation proudly boasts 15 active free trade agreements spanning 51 nations, attesting to its global perspective.

Fostering an environment conducive to thought leadership and innovation, Canada takes pride in hosting seven of the world's most secure and reliable banks. The rapid transition of its financial institutions to digital frontiers is a spectacle to behold, solidifying its stature as a beacon of progress. Regulators tread the middle ground, imposing measured requisites on financial service providers.

Decoding the essence of the canadian MSB license

Canada's MSB, governed by FINTRAC, signifies a non-banking financial entity encompassing an array of functions. Its core services span currency exchange, conversion, and seamless currency transfers. The MSB archetype extends its reach to encompass crowdfunding endeavors and crypto operations, a dynamic domain characterized by adaptable regulations and robust legal safeguards.

The venerable MSB license unfurls an array of privileges:

  • Facilitating currency exchanges, spanning USD to EUR and beyond.
  • Enabling seamless money transfers across geographic borders for individuals and corporate entities alike.
  • Facilitating crypto transactions and venturing into crowdfunding endeavors.
  • Offering personalized electronic wallets, empowering clients to hold funds or channel them directly into linked bank accounts.
  • Spearheading trade acquisition, providing a conduit for clients to embrace card payments via POS terminals.

Bound by ethos: Canadian MSB vs. foreign MSB

MSB (Money Service Business)

  • Enrollment: compulsory.
  • Licensing: compulsory. A Money Service Business in Canada necessitates an MSB license to offer money services.
  • Regulatory authority: FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada).
  • Local address requirement: obligatory. An MSB must maintain a physical address in Canada.
  • Presence of local employees: affirmative. The company must appoint local personnel, including a compliance manager responsible for regulatory adherence.

FMSB (Foreign Money Services Business)

  • Enrollment: may be required depending on circumstances and types of money services provided.
  • Licensing: might also be necessary in select cases, contingent on jurisdiction and types of money services.
  • Regulatory authority: varies with the jurisdiction where money services are provided. For instance, in Canada, it could be FINTRAC, whereas other countries might involve different authorities.
  • Local address requirement: generally not obligatory, though it may hinge on the legislation of the country where services are rendered.
  • Presence of local employees: potentially mandated based on the jurisdiction's laws.
The key distinctions between MSB and FMSB licenses are rooted in the fact that MSBs often engage in money services within a country (such as Canada), while FMSBs might entail offering services in other nations or to international clients. The prerequisites for registration, licensing, regulatory oversight, and the need for local employees can vary based on the legislation of each specific country and the nature of money services.

The premise of the Canadian FMSB license weaves an intriguing narrative for businesses headquartered beyond Canadian shores. It mirrors the essence of its domestic counterpart, with a notable distinction in opening doors to the Canadian market with a vibrant presence. The sole prerequisite stands as enlisting a local director.

In the symphony of Canadian finance, the MSB license isn't merely a document—it's a key unlocking the door to dynamic financial vistas.

Specifics of PI/EMI license ownership


  • Regions allowed for customer service: EEA (across all countries under passporting conditions).
  • Processing time (approximate): Up to 1 year.
  • Primary services: Payments, currency exchange, cash withdrawal, issuance of payment cards, acquiring, money transfers, payment initiation services, account information services, issuance of electronic money (exclusively for EMI-licensed institutions).
  • Management requirements: Presence of at least two directors, a senior executive director residing in the license-issuing country, MLRO personnel.
  • Initial capital requisites: Minimum of €350,000 for EMI.

Who is prohibited from registering as an MSB?

The following individuals/entities are ineligible to register as financial institutions providing money services:

  1. Natural or legal persons found guilty of involvement in:
    • Money laundering and illicit schemes to acquire funds.
    • Specific violations stipulated by the Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Act.
    • Offenses related to possession of unlawfully obtained property, fraudulent activities concerning contracts and trade.
  2. A corporation, partnership, or other legal entity, if its directors or owners are ineligible to register as an MSB for the aforementioned reasons. Individuals owning/controlling 20% or more of corporate rights are considered ultimate beneficial owners.

MSB license in Canada and key licensing features

It is important to note that FINTRAC conducts document review and decisions on license issuance. The licensing process encompasses the following stages:

  • Company registration. Numerous legal structures are available within the country, with the corporation being the most prevalent.
  • Name approval. Upon submitting an application to the regulator, which must approve or reject the company name, at least three name options must be proposed in order of preference.
  • Formulation of a comprehensive business plan, encompassing company objectives, strategic direction, and financial projections spanning several years.
  • Registration of a legal address.
  • Opening a bank account in a Canadian financial institution for capital deposition.
although FINTRAC does not stipulate minimum initial capital requirements, depositing a certain amount into the account demonstrates genuine commitment to business development.
  • Appointment of management, including identification of the company's leadership and their experience/qualifications within the financial sector.
  • Submission of an application along with a documentation package for license acquisition.
  • Creation of an AML/CTF and KYC report. This entails delineation of internal customer verification procedures, methods to detect/suspend suspicious transactions, and measures for adhering to anti-financial crime requisites.
The stages of licensing may marginally differ based on the selected province, yet uniformly encompass submission of a business plan, verified financial statements, and meticulously structured management frameworks. During the registration phase of a Canadian company, it is necessary to appoint:
  • At least one director with financial industry expertise or relevant qualifications.
  • An AML personnel.
Both the director and the AML representative need not necessarily be residents of the country. As previously mentioned, mandatory share capital requirements are absent, a notable advantage. However, during the MSB license application review, substantiating financial solvency and favorable legal standing becomes essential.

Licensing marks the inception of compliance obligations for MSBs. Entities engaged in financial activities in Canada are obligated to adhere to Know Your Customer (KYC) policies, anti-money laundering (AML) measures, and data security. A clear understanding of clientele, assessment of potential risks, and establishment of verification processes are imperative to counter unlawful financial activities. Canadian MSB-licensed institutions also mandate secure methods for processing transactional data and client information.

In the same vein, an institution holding MSB status in Canada must incorporate at least two words in its name, with one word signifying the primary line of business, such as "money transfers". Abbreviations are disallowed.

Documentation requisites

In accordance with the MSB Amendments, new documentation prerequisites will be applicable:

  • Novel obligations for retaining reports on substantial cash transactions and virtual currency transactions for a five-year period.
  • Alterations to the information to be preserved as part of the record of substantial cash transactions, with additional details being incorporated.
  • Modifications to the information that should be retained as part of the transaction record for receiving funds of $3,000 USD or more in a single transaction, with further information included.
  • Particular documentation requirements are pertinent to fund transfers equal to or exceeding $1,000 USD, excepting electronic fund transfers. This involves storing additional information such as exchange rate data, recipients, and implicated accounts.
  • Specific documentation requisites are relevant to electronic transfers of $1,000 USD or more, necessitating retention of additional information including exchange rate data, beneficiaries, and accounts involved.

MSB license in Canada: essential licensing documents

Applicants seeking a Canadian MSB license must submit the following essential documents to FINTRAC:

  • Institution's name.
  • Description of primary services, objectives, and financial forecasts spanning multiple years.
  • Bank account information.
  • Details about the director and AML manager.
  • Information about ultimate beneficial owners, including names, addresses, criminal record checks, and confirmation of lawful income sources.
  • Information about the organizational structure, outlining responsibilities of each executive and internal control and management procedures.
  • Incorporation documents.
  • Confirmation of a physical address within the country.
  • Estimate of anticipated transaction numbers and volumes per annum.
  • Risk monitoring and prevention strategies, as companies must adhere to AML/CTF policies, form effective mechanisms to detect and counteract money laundering and illegal financial activities.

When pursuing an MSB license, strict adherence to the KYC policy is crucial, involving:

  • Compilation and processing of information about the institution and its executives.
  • Surveillance of suspicious transactions with reporting of questionable operations to competent government authorities.
Crucial note
Failure to register as an MSB with FINTRAC provides grounds for imposing punitive actions, including:
  • Fines up to 2 million Canadian dollars.I
  • mprisonment up to 5 years.

Timeline for obtaining a payment operator license in Canada

As a general guideline, the licensing process can be concluded within 5 months, remarkably swift compared to other financial licenses. For instance, European EMI licenses can entail up to a year for the licensing process.

Notably, investors possess an alternative option: purchasing a company already equipped with an MSB license in Canada. This avenue presents its merits, notably in terms of ownership transition timeline. This route is less time-consuming compared to establishing a new company.

Procuring an established company proves pragmatic when expedited commencement of operations is desired. The key benefits following acquisition of a ready-made company encompass:

  • Ready-made companies are available for purchase with all necessary legal documents.
  • Acquiring a pre-registered enterprise can expedite opening a corporate account with a foreign bank.
  • Purchasing an established company with a history can confer marketing advantages, fostering trust among clients and partners.
  • Time-saving in securing grants.

An essential aspect when acquiring a pre-existing company (irrespective of the industry in which the firm operates) is rigorous due diligence. Legal examination is the initial step toward deciding on acquiring a foreign enterprise. This process identifies potential risks associated with the purchase and safeguards against investment in an unaligned or unprofitable entity.

After ownership transfer, the new owner can effect changes such as altering the company name, appointing new directors, revising registered addresses, etc.

Taxation in Canada

Canada's taxation framework entails corporate income tax at both federal and provincial levels. The federal corporate income tax rate is 38%. Provincially, Prince Edward Island bears the highest corporate income tax rate at 16%, while Alberta boasts the lowest at 8%.

The federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) is levied at a 5% rate. The country also employs a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Five provinces have harmonized their HST systems with GST, introducing unified taxation. Non-resident withholding tax for services provided in Canada is set at 15%.


The financial sector profoundly influences the economic progress of every nation. Obtaining an MSB license in Canada demands meticulous analysis and comprehension of national legislation. Acquaintance not only with federal statutes but also individual provincial frameworks is indispensable. Instances of non-compliance or breaches can lead to license denial or punitive sanctions. Thus, seeking assistance from experts with specialized proficiency is recommended. Such professionals not only conserve time but also pre-empt potential risks, offering effective mitigation strategies. For guidance in acquiring an MSB license in Canada, our expert team is at your service through various communication channels.

Service order form
The field must be filled
How can we contact you?*
Please enter a valid e-mail
Please enter a valid phone number
Your comment