Elon Musk's X Has Licenses in Multiple U.S. States to Process Payments, Including Crypto

Musk's social media platform, X, formerly Twitter, has obtained money or currency transmitter licenses in seven U.S. states including Maryland, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

AccessTimeIconAug 31, 2023 at 9:31 a.m. UTC
Updated Aug 31, 2023 at 3:39 p.m. UTC
  • Elon Musk's social media platform, X (formerly Twitter), has obtained money or currency transmitter licenses in seven U.S. states – most recently from Rhode Island.
  • Although the Rhode Island license does allow for processing crypto payments, it also applies to broader payments providers like PayPal or Venmo.

X, the Elon Musk-owned social media platform formerly called Twitter, has obtained payments licenses from several U.S. states in recent months – including a currency transmitter license in Rhode Island earlier this week.

While Musk has hinted at supporting crypto on the platform – even briefly switching out Twitter's bird logo to dogecoin's dog before its rebranding to X last month – the licenses allow for broader payments services to be offered.

Musk has said that he plans for X to expand beyond social media posts, becoming an 'everything app,' and the money transmitter licenses obtained since June from Arizona, Maryland, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri and New Hampshire indicate the tech billionaire may have plans to support payment processing nationwide similar to Venmo or PayPal, a company he co-founded. The Rhode Island license, while essential for permitting payments, is also a requirement for offering crypto services.

"I think a new social media company is needed that is based on a blockchain and includes payments," Musk said in a text message just days before the bombshell offer to buy Twitter for $43 billion back in April 2022.

In an FAQ answering common queries Rhode Island's Department of Business Regulation (DBR) specifies that firms requiring the approval "include those transmitting money for its customers, including traditional wire transfers (like Western Union) and electronic transfers (like PayPal)."

The state's currency transmission license is also required for conducting crypto exchange and custody business, with an exception for fintechs in "very rare cases" where the firm "is registered as a true 'agent' of the Rhode Island licensed currency transmitter ... and money transmission is not the core profit-making business of the fintech."

Though they certainly open the way for offering crypto payments, the state licenses are not limited or unique to that service. In New Hampshire, "'money transmission' means engaging in the business of selling or issuing payment instruments or stored value, or receiving currency or monetary value for transmission to another location." The state also says "an administrator or exchanger that accepts and transmits a convertible virtual currency or buys or sells convertible virtual currency for any reason is a money transmitter under federal regulations ..."

Western Union and PayPal have the same state licenses as X, and additional ones in line with the services they offer and the states they serve.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.