skip to main content

Federal regulators are probing whether Cash App leaves door open to money launderers, terrorists

NBC News

Federal financial regulators are exploring allegations by two whistleblowers that Cash App, the popular mobile payment platform, and entities providing transaction services to its users performed inadequate due diligence on customers, potentially opening the door to money laundering, terrorism financing and other illegal activities. While banks are required to know the true identity of every customer, the Cash App program “had no effective procedure to establish the identity of its customers,” the whistleblowers said. In their complaints, reviewed by NBC News, the whistleblowers detail an array of questionable Cash App transactions with entities under sanction by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, operations known to sell personal information and credit card data for illegal purposes, and offshore gambling sites barred to U.S. citizens.

Among the big-name companies partnering with Cash App are Visa Inc., the giant payment processor, and Wells Fargo.The whistleblowers filed their complaint with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, a unit of the U.S. Treasury that administers the Bank Secrecy Act and analyzes financial transactions to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other illicit activities. Early last month, FinCEN officials spoke at length with the whistleblowers, their lawyer told NBC News, and said they were referring the complaint to internal investigators as well as to other federal agencies. As is its custom, FinCEN declined to comment on the existence of the submission.Over three-quarters of U.S. adults have used a mobile payment app, such as Cash App, PayPal or Venmo, according to a 2023 study by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. But these services, also known as person-to-person payment platforms, pose risks to their users and to the financial system, regulators say. In recent years, for example, law enforcement officials have cited criminals’ use of payment apps to evade laws, such as laundering stolen Covid relief funds in 2020.