NYDFS chief Ben Lawsky says virtual currency regulations will be released this month

Home » NYDFS chief Ben Lawsky says virtual currency regulations will be released this month
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/105644709@N08/

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/105644709@N08/

New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) superintendent Ben Lawsky announced via Twitter yesterday that his agency was facing some delays in the finalization of rules for digital currency-using companies in the state. Originally planned for debut around the first of the month, the much-anticipated regulations will provide guidelines for how the range of financial institutions overseen by the NYDFS can use, invest in and otherwise interact with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Lawsky did not give an exact date for the release of the regulations, but did say that his agency was making “good progress” and that the document would be released within two weeks.

The NYDFS rules are widely seen as the first test of meaningful regulation of the bitcoin industry in the U.S. Lawsky has said that his agency’s primary focus with the regulations is to “squelch money laundering first,” and that he is taking pains to prevent “stifling innovation.” As such, the regulations are expected to be similar to those banks and other financial institutions currently observe.

The cornerstone of the NYDFS rules is the proposed “BitLicense,” which enables institutions to legally conduct business in bitcoin. The license would be the first of its kind, and the first state-level approval of bitcoin as a currency-like instrument. With Wall Street expected to be a hotbed of bitcoin activity in the second half of this year, the licenses will be required before any major investments are possible.

Once the regulations are drafted, the proposal would still need to approved. According to the Wall Street Journal’s coverage earlier this year, that process involves an open comment period of 60-90 days. Assuming that timeline is accurate, the first BitLicenses could be issued in time for Q4 investment.

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