Bill Text

Bill Embark

February 27, 2015

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

This bill would enact the Virtual Currency Act. The bill would prohibit a person from engaging in any virtual currency business, as defined, in this state unless the person is licensed by the Commissioner of Business Oversight or is exempt from the licensure requirement, as provided. The bill would require applicants for licensure, including an applicant for licensure and approval to acquire control of a licensee, to pay the commissioner a specified nonrefundable application fee and accomplish an application form required to include, among other things, information about the applicant, previous virtual currency services provided by the applicant, a sample form of receipt for transactions involving the business of virtual currency, and specified financial statements. The bill would make these licenses subject to annual renewal and would require a renewal fee paid to the commissioner in a specified amount. The bill would require licensees to annually pay the commissioner a specified amount for each licensee branch office. The bill would require applicants and licensees to pay the commissioner a specified hourly amount for the commissioner’s examination costs, as provided. The bill would also require the commissioner to levy an assessment each fiscal year, on a pro rata basis, on licensees in an amount sufficient to meet the commissioner’s expenses in administering these provisions and to provide a reasonable reserve for contingencies.

This bill would require each licensee to maintain at all times such capital as the commissioner determines, subject to specified factors, is sufficient to ensure the safety and soundness of the licensee, its ongoing operations, and maintain consumer protection. The bill would require each licensee to maintain a bond or trust account in United States dollars for the benefit of its consumers in the form and amount as specified by the commissioner.

This bill would authorize the commissioner to examine the business and any branch office of any licensee to ascertain whether the business is being conducted in a lawful manner and all virtual currency is decently accounted for. The bill would require a licensee to file a report with the commissioner within a specified period of time after the licensee knows about the occurrence of certain events relating to the virtual currency business and those persons connected to that business, and to also maintain records as required by the commissioner for a specified period of time.

With regard to enforcement, among other things, this bill would, if it shows up that a licensee is violating or failing to serve with these provisions or conducting business in an unsafe or injurious manner, authorize the commissioner to order the licensee to conform or discontinue those practices. The bill would also authorize the commissioner to issue an order suspending or revoking a license, or placing a licensee in receivership, if after notice and an chance for a hearing, the commissioner makes a specified finding. The bill would provide that every order, decision, or other official act of the commissioner is subject to review.

This bill would authorize the commissioner to impose a civil penalty for a disturbance of these provisions.

Within a specified period after the fiscal year, the bill would require a licensee to file with the commissioner a specified audit report. Within a specified period after the end of each calendar quarter, the bill would require a licensee to file with the commissioner a report containing financial statements verified by two of the licensee’s principal officers.

By a specified date, the bill would require each licensee to file an annual report with the commissioner providing information regarding the licensee’s business and operations within the state, as specified. The bill would also require each licensee to make other special reports to the commissioner. The bill would require these reports to be kept confidential. The bill would require the commissioner to prepare a report for publication on his or her Internet Web site summarizing the information from those reports and enforcement act information.

This bill would require a licensee to provide a specified consumer protection disclosure and receipt to its consumers.

This bill would authorize a virtual currency licensee in good standing that plans to engage in activities permitted under the Money Transmission Act to request that the commissioner convert his or her license into a license under the Money Transmission Act, as specified.

This bill would authorize a person or entity conducting virtual currency business with less than $1,000,000 in outstanding obligations, as defined, and whose business model, as determined by the commissioner, represents low or no risk to consumers to pay a $500 application fee to the commissioner and, if approved, receive a provisional license to conduct virtual currency business. The bill would authorize the commissioner to request reports and documents, to examine the provisional licensee, and gather information regarding the business and operations of provisional licensees. The bill would require reports and documents concerning the business and operations of provisional licensees to be kept confidential.

This bill would require a licensee, under the Money Transmission Act, to report to the commissioner its plan to engage in any virtual currency business and request permission to engage in that business subject to specified requirements and conditions, as determined by the commissioner.

This bill would make these aforementioned provisions, including the Virtual Currency Act, operative on July 1, 2016.

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