Hey Compliance Nerd!
I have customers in Quebec but I don’t have any offices or staff located in Quebec, nor do I offer any services in French. Do I really need to get a money services business (MSB) license from the Quebec Authorite des Marches Financiers (AMF)?
I’d Rather Not
Hey I’d Rather Not,
I feel your pain. Like most of us, you would rather not do extra work if you don’t have to… but in this case it may be necessary. The AMF has taken the position that if you are conducting certain types of business (including operating bitcoin ATMs or exchanges) and you are serving customers who are located in Quebec, you must be licensed by the AMF.
This is true even if you don’t have any physical presence in Quebec and/or if you’re not offering your services “en français.” When Quebec first published the MSB Act, we reached out to the AMF on behalf of our customers to ask the same question.
If you’re not sure if your business should be licensed in Quebec, based on your business model, you can contact the AMF directly to ask. The AMF has specific contacts for MSBs (and they generally respond by the next day). While you don’t have to be French-speaking to speak to an agent, it can be helpful. I would also recommend that, if the AMF states that you don’t need to be licensed, you ask for that in writing (via email is fine).
If you do need to be licensed, you’ll need to have a reliable (and preferably French-speaking) representative, who either lives or worked in Quebec that responds to the AMF on your behalf (fittingly, these are known as “respondents”). If you don’t know anyone that can serve as a respondent for you, we’ve compiled a short list of reliable resources. These are people that, as part of their business, act as respondents and advise customers with regards to the AMF (meaning that they will charge fees for their services).
Amber D. Scott, MBA, CIPP, CBP, CAMS
Founder & Chief AML Ninja, Outlier Solutions Inc.
Amber is a long time, self-described “compliance nerd”. Amber is a firm believer in the idea that good compliance can enable good business. Find out how at www.outliercanada.com or reach out to her directly at [email protected].