I am thinking of starting an online marketplace business where we link buyers and sellers. The buyers would pay the sellers a deposit through us and we would charge a service fee off of that (Buyer pays $300, we charge $100, give Seller $200). Would this business need any special type of license, like a money transmitter license or escrow license, since we're an intermediary for the payment? Would we need any special bonds? I'm sure it depends on the state, so for arguments sake, let's say Texas.
There is no license required for the type of business you describe. You are not becoming a fiduciary merely by holding a deposit for your customers/clients. As long as you do not offer services which might be similar to a bank, selling an investment device or offering fiduciary services, you will not need licensing or bonding. Full speed ahead and good luck with your new venture.
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Irwin, thanks for the answer. Just to clarify, the site would have local car sellers listing their car, the buyer would transfer a deposit (through us) and once the deal is done, we pay the seller the deposit less our fee. Since we are acting as an auto broker of sorts, would we still not have to worry about licensing and bonding? Would we need an auto dealer license in Texas, even though everything is 100% online?
You are not an auto dealer or a broker because you have no contract with either buyer or sell other than to facilitate a sale and on line. I don't see any license requirement for that any more than eBay would have to be licensed for what it does. Before you spend a lot of money on trying to investigate licensing etc... (except for here of course title="Laughing"/>) you should try to get such a web-site up and running to see if it can actually work. Also if you are on line, your business could come from all over the world. A state license would not be my primary concern as far as liability goes.
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