Below is a summary of some of the significant legal and regulatory actions that occurred over the past week. This alert is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all such developments, but rather a selection of publicly-reported news that may be of particular interest.
The OCC’s Office of Innovation To Hold Upcoming Office Hours
As part of the OCC’s new Office of Innovation, the OCC has announced that it will hold office hours where it will conduct one-on-one meetings for fintech industry members for companies wishing to discuss the OCC’s perspective on responsible innovation. The OCC will provide feedback to companies and answer questions. Meetings will be held at the OCC’s San Francisco Office on May 16 and 17, 2017. Space for these meetings is limited. The OCC plans to meet with only about 15 companies over the two-day period. OCC 4/13/2017 Press Release
Washington State Legislators Prepare Bill To Regulate Virtual Currencies
In Washington, Senate Bill 5031 was introduced by Senators Jan Angel and Mark Mullet in January. Both legislative chambers have now approved the bill, which was delivered Thursday to Governor Insleee for approval. The bill provides new rules for companies that deal in digital currency services. WA SB 5031
New Arizona Law Recognizes Blockchain Signatures and Smart Contracts
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill into law late last month that recognizes signatures recorded in an electronic form through blockchain technology as legally valid and enforceable by law. AZ HB 2417
New Hampshire Bill Exempting Virtual Currency Companies Is Debated
New Hampshire House Bill 436 provides an exemption that protects bitcoin traders from money transmission laws. The bill cleared the state House of Representatives, but has been met with debate in the state Senate deliberations. NH HB 436; Video recording of Senate Committee Hearing
Bitfinex and Tether Voluntarily Dismiss Suit Against Wells Fargo
This week, Bitfinex and Tether voluntarily dismissed their complaint for intentional interference with contractual relations against Wells Fargo, which was filed just last week. Notice of Voluntary Dismissal
Hong Kong Explores Creating a Central Bank Digital Currency
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (“HKMA”) has entered the first phase of exploring the feasibility of a central bank digital currency using distributed ledger technology and partnering with local banks and the R3 consortium. This phase is expected to conclude at the end of this year, at which time the HKMA will decide whether to move forward. Hong Kong Digital Currency
Bank of England Opines that Fintech Does Not Need Tougher Rules
Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, stated this week that the fintech sector did not need the same level of regulations as banks. Britain has seen a large boom of business from fintech firms, which employ more than 60,000 people there and is a business worth nearly 7 billion pounds (for companies providing services like contactless payments, banking apps and online crowd sourcing). The government has taken a supportive position of the fintech industry and seeks to avoid stifling innovation in Britain. UK Fintech Regulations
For a comprehensive list of developments please see our Virtual Currencies: International Actions and Regulations.