Starting a check cashing business in Florida is a process that requires several steps that must be planned before filing for the license, and risking a loss of money and time.
The check cashing business in Florida is profitable but at the same time it is a risky business which must be minimized through the adoption of special measures and procedures.
It is important to obtain proper advice from experienced and qualified professionals to avoid expenses and delays to obtain a check cashing license.
Obtaining a check cashing license in Florida, known also as an FT3 license, requires several steps:
The first step is to register with the federal government as a Money Service Business (MSB). This process is done electronically, and in order to file said registration any new applicant must set up an account with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, commonly known as FinCEN. The registration is done through form FinCEN 107.
Registration with FinCEN places the company under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) laws and regulations. Those regulations impose several requirements on the company. One of those requirements is to develop and implement an Anti-Money Laundering (AML) program which must contain policies and procedures that the company will implement as part of their check cashing operation. Some companies tend to use AML programs devised for other type of financial services such as money order sales or money transfer services. However those programs are inadequate for check cashing and they do not meet the requirement of the BSA for a check cashing operation. Another requirement is to designate a compliance officer. This person is responsable to ensure that the AML program is being thoroughly implemented. There are other BSA requirements which must be met, and therefore the compliance officer and employees of the company must be aware of said regulations.
After the FinCEN registration has been confirmed, an application with the Florida Department of Financial Services, Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) must be filed. This application contains several parts, and must be filed electronically. As with the FinCEN registration, the applicant must set up an account with the OFR’s Real System for thie purpose. It is extremely important that all information requested be provided in a complete and accurate manner to avoid delays in the process. In our experience the vast majority of delays in obtaining such a license come from errors in the original application form. Several documents must be attached to the application, among those is the anti-money laundering program which must be previously drafted. Another form that must be submitted is a fingerprint card for each of the individuals included in the application, which will be used for a background check conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Once the license is obtained it is important to keep present that the State of Florida has multiple requirements that must be met by check cashers. Also the check casher is subject to audit examinations to verify that the company is operating with the parameters of Chapter 560 of Florida Statutes.
There are other important aspects that must be planned for, and executed timely. Some of those are obtaining the proper county and city permits to operate the business, ensuring that the location has all the necessary security measures to protect the employees and customers, obtaining adequate software for the check cashing operation, as well as obtaining a qualified bank account to be able to operate the business. The process of applying for an MSB-qualified bank account has a number of elements that must be considered before applying for the account. Also the check casher must be aware that not every bank offers accounts for check cashers, and some of the banks that offer these types of accounts have additional costs and even collateral requirements. It is very important to demonstrate to the bank you are applying for that your check cashing business operates in a safe and sound manner.