Hawaii has accepted 12 digital currency firms into its new regulatory sandbox, allowing them to serve its residents without the mandatory money transmitter license. The firms include ErisX, Gemini, bitFlyer USA and Facebook’s digital currency wallet initiative, Novi.
Hawaii announced the regulatory sandbox in March, signifying a change in its stance against the digital currency industry. The state has previously been tough on the industry, with some of its policies leading a number of firms, such as Coinbase, to cease operating in the state.
In a press release on August 19, the Hawaii Technology Development Council announced that a dozen digital currency firms had kickstart the official launch of the regulatory sandbox. Through a ‘no action message’ issued by the regulator, the state’s Division of Financial Institutions “is not taking any action against these companies, which need a money transmitter license to operate under the current statutory scheme.”
The regulator received submissions from 19 companies since launching the program in March, it revealed. After a comprehensive review, it had settled on the 12 firms: bitFlyer USA, Gemini, Novi, ErisX, CEX.IO, BlockFi Trading, Apex Crypto, River Financial, Robinhood Crypto, Cloud Nalu, Coinme and Flexa Network.
Of the 12, Cloud Nalu is the only company founded in the state. The form offers blockchain and digital currency integration services to its clients.
Iris Ikeda, the state’s Commissioner of Financial Institutions remarked, “I anticipate leveraging this opportunity for our state to develop a robust understanding of one of the most exciting areas in fintech. States across the nation are starting to review their laws to determine whether the digital currency companies should be regulated for the benefit of consumers.”
While the companies will be benefitting from the more lenient regulations while in the sandbox, they also committed to help the regulators by providing key metrics. The data collected will be instrumental in the formulation of a regulatory framework for the state’s digital currency industry. It will also lay the groundwork for the next phase of the sandbox.
The accepted companies expressed optimism that the program will open up new opportunities, and eventually lead to permanent licensing in the state. Andrew Benson, the co-founder and COO of River Financial stated, “We are incredibly excited to bring the best of Bitcoin to the residents of Hawaii, many of whom have long awaited this day.”