Representatives of the blockchain industry spoke today at a North Carolina Senate Finance Committee meeting to advocate for a bill that they believe is among the more favorable seen so far at the state legislative level.
At the center of discussion today was the state’s Money Transmitters Act, and changes to the legislative framework that would update the rules in accordance with guidance issued by the North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks (NCCOB) last December.
Sponsored by Senator Rick Gunn, Senate Bill 680 would update the definition of money transmission to include any entity that "maintains control" of virtual currency on behalf of others, among more general changes to state law. The law would also codify exemptions for non-financial blockchain service providers, and other business models the industry deems to fall outside of the traditional definition of money transmission.
At today's event, Senator Gunn took the opportunity to state the purpose of the law as it relates to virtual currencies, framing the technology as one whose "time had come" in North Carolina.
Senator Gunn told attendees:
“We know that virtual currency transmitters are here to stay, and that they are growing. It’s a sector of innovation, and I think we have a responsibility to try to let them grow and prosper.”
In interview, Perianne Boring, chairman of industry advocacy group the Chamber of Digital Commerce, positioned the bill as the "most comprehensive and business friendly" moving forward at the state level.
Boring went so far as to assert that it provided a new template for states seeking to regulate the industry, one in which collaboration was prioritized in rule-making.
“We think that was a commendable thing for the state to do. This is more diplomatic than in New York, and it's how states should be regulating the industry,” she said.
Attending representatives from the blockchain industry included the Chamber of Digital Commerce, IBM and law firm Perkins Coie. Discussion reportedly focused on requirements for money services businesses, the legal status of digital currencies and the need for North Carolina to position itself as a leader in tech innovation.
Following what attendees said would be continued discussion, SB 680 will proceed to a formal Senate vote, after which time it would become law if approved.
Yet, while the bill was perhaps crafted for consumer-facing businesses seeking to deal in virtual currencies, IT giant IBM was in attendance to support the potential business use cases it believes could be propelled by the bill.
Vice president of blockchain technologies Jerry Cuomo told CoinDesk that he sees the bill as one that is important to providing public clarity on the technology, a role that he said IBM will continue to play in accordance with its work in the industry.
"Virtual currency sits in a class of digital assets, which blockchain nicely describes. This topic of digital assets or shared ledgers has to be discussed in general assemblies," Cuomo said.
Cuomo noted that IBM plans to continue to educate regulators and lawmakers in the US, echoing concerns the country may be falling behind by providing a more complex legal environment for startups and businesses.
This opinion has emerged as a frequent topic of interest as the industry continues to engage with regulators in the wake of New York’s BitLicense, which was widely critiqued as too expansive and restrictive.
Image via the Chamber of Digital Commerce