New Hampshire Exempts Bitcoin from Money Transmitter Regulation

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP

The pro-bitcoin legislation trend continues. This month New Hampshire passed legislation that exempts persons using virtual currency from registering as money transmitters. Specifically, the law amends existing RSA 399-G, which deals with licensing of money transmitters as follows.

The law amends RSA 399-G:1, XVI(b), which defines “money transmission” to now read: “Money transmission” means:

  1. Engaging in the business of selling or issuing payment instruments or stored value; or
  2. Receiving currency or monetary value for transmission to another location, including maintaining control of virtual currency on behalf of others.

Under the law, the term “virtual currency” is newly defined to mean “a digital representation of value that can be digitally traded and functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, or a store of value but does not have legal tender status as recognized by the United States government.”

Finally, the law amends RSA 399-G:3, which addresses exemptions, to read as follows: 399-G:3 Exemptions. – The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:

I. Any bank, trust company, savings and loan association, profit sharing and pension trust, credit union, thrift company, insurance company, or receivership, which may be chartered by this state or any other state or by any agency of the United States.

II. The United States or any department, instrumentality, or agency thereof.

III. A state, county, city, or any other governmental agency or governmental subdivision of a state.

IV. Electronic funds transfer of governmental benefits for a federal, state, county, or governmental agency by a contractor on behalf of the United States or a department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, or a state or governmental subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof.

V. Retailers issuing stored value credits or gift cards.

VI. A debt adjuster duly licensed pursuant to RSA 399-D that acts as a money transmitter for the sole purpose of providing a debt adjustment service to a consumer under terms of a contract issued pursuant to RSA 399-D and that has a surety bond on file with the commissioner under RSA 399-D in the amount of $100,000.

VII. Persons conducting business using transactions conducted in whole or in part in virtual currency.

VIII. Other persons not within the intent of this chapter as the commissioner may designate by rule or order.

This legislation adds to the list of recent blockchain related litigation as reported in our recent post.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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