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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

DFPI: Certain Bitcoin ATMs not subject to MTA licensure

Licensing State Issues State Regulators DFPI California Money Transmission Act

Recently, California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) released new opinion letters covering aspects of the Money Transmission Act (MTA) related to Bitcoin automated teller machines (ATMs). Each of the three letters (available here, here, and here), which contain slightly different fact patterns, explain that the Bitcoin ATMs described by the applicant companies are not subject to licensure under the MTA because they are not considered to be engaging in the business of money transmission. In each instance, the transaction would only be between the consumer using the kiosk and the company, the transaction would be completed instantly, and no third parties would be involved in the transmission of the Bitcoin to the customer’s virtual wallets. DFPI reminded each company that while it was not a subject of their inquiry, if they choose to offer virtual currency other than Bitcoin, they may have obligations under California’s broker-dealer laws to the extent that any of those virtual currencies are securities.

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