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On July 3, the Hawaii governor signed HB 1027 (the “Act”) into law, amending several provisions relating to the Money Transmitters Modernization Act. The Act adds and amends several definitions. Changes include defining “money,” “receiving money or monetary value for transmission,” and “tangible net worth.” The definition of “money transmission” has also been amended to clarify its connection to business done in Hawaii, and “stored value” has been amended to mean monetary value “that represents a claim against the issuer evidenced by an electronic or digital record and that is intended and accepted for use as a means of redemption for money or monetary value, or payment for goods or services.” Stored value does not include “a payment instrument or closed loop stored value, or stored value not sold to the public but issued and distributed as part of a loyalty, rewards, or promotional program.”
Among the various exemptions, the Act also provides for an exemption for an agent of the payee to collect and process a payment from a payor to the payee for goods or services, other than money transmission services, provided certain criteria is met. Additional exemptions include certain persons acting as intermediaries, persons expressly appointed as third-party service providers to an exempt entity, and registered futures commission merchants and securities broker-dealers, among others. Anyone claiming to be exempt from licensing may be required to provide information and documentation demonstrating their qualification for the claimed exemption.
The amendments outline numerous licensing application and renewal procedures, including largely adopting the net worth, surety bond, and permissible investment requirements set forth in the Money Transmission Modernization Act. Several other states have also recently enacted provisions relating to the licensing and regulation of money transmitters (see InfoBytes coverage here and here).
The Act took effect July 1.
On June 22, the Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation issued an advisory on recent enforcement actions by Maryland and federal securities enforcement agencies against cryptocurrency-related businesses that could potentially impact businesses pursuing money transmitter licensure. The actions allege certain businesses offered products constituting securities while they were only licensed as money transmitters by the Commissioner of Financial Regulation. The state takes “character and fitness” into consideration for licensure and although the Commissioner does not enforce securities laws, he or she must consider violations of law, including violations of Maryland securities law, when determining whether to grant licenses. The advisory reads, “compliance with law, particularly Maryland law, regardless of whether or not the law falls within the Commissioner’s purview, must be considered when determining whether a licensee warrants the belief that business will be conducted lawfully, and thus whether the licensee is, or remains, qualified for licensure.” Moreover, violations of securities laws could form the grounds for action by the Commissioner against a licensee, “including but not limited to, an action seeking to revoke a license.”
In June, the Texas governor signed HB 1666 (the “Act”) to add practice restrictions to digital asset service providers, defined as electronic platforms that facilitate the trading of digital assets on behalf of a digital asset customer and maintain custody of the customer’s digital assets. The Act applies to a digital asset service provider conducting business in Texas that holds a money transmission license and either services more than 500 digital asset customer in the state or has at least $10 million in customer funds. Digital asset service providers are required to comply with certain provisions in order to obtain and maintain a money transmission license including provisions relating to the commingling of funds, customer access to funds, accounting requirements, annual reporting requirements. The Texas Department of Banking has the authority to suspend and revoke a license if these requirements are not met and may impose a penalty for violations of the Act. The commissioner also has examination authority and may promulgate rules to administer and enforce the Act’s provisions. The Act is effective September 1. Certain financial institutions and entities not required to hold a money transmission license are exempt.
On May 29, the Texas governor signed SB 895 (the “Act”) to enact the Money Services Modernization Act, the money transmitter model law created by industry and state experts. The goal of the Act is to create a set of consistent and coordinated standards relating to the regulation of money service businesses. Among other things, the Act outlines networked supervision criteria to allow the commissioner to participate in multistate supervisory processes coordinated through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the Money Transmitter Regulators Association, and other related affiliates and successors for all money services licenses that hold licenses in Texas and other states. To efficiently minimize regulatory burden, the commissioner may, among other things, coordinate and share information with other state and federal regulators, enter into information-sharing contracts or agreements, conduct joint examinations or investigations, and accept examination or investigation reports made by other states. Texas now joins several other states in adopting common licensing and regulatory standards to add efficiencies to the multi-state process (continuing InfoBytes coverage here).
Additionally, the commissioner has enforcement, examination, and supervision authority, may adopt implementing regulations, and may recover costs and fees associated with applications, examinations, investigations, and other related actions. The Act also includes additional consumer protection provisions. The Act includes in the definition of “money” or “monetary value” a stablecoin that “(i) is pegged to a sovereign currency; (ii) is fully backed by assets held in reserve; and (iii) grants a holder of the stablecoin the right to redeem the stablecoin for sovereign currency from the issuer.” Among the various exemptions, the Act provides for an exemption for an agent of the payee to collect and process a payment from a payor to the payee for goods or services, other than money transmission services. The amendments also outline numerous licensing application and renewal procedures including net worth, surety bond, and permissible investment requirements. The Act is effective September 1.
Minnesota enacts small-dollar consumer lending and money transmitter amendments; Georgia and Nevada also enact money transmission provisions
On May 24, the Minnesota governor signed SF 2744 to amend several state statutes relating to financial institutions, including provisions concerning small-dollar, short-term consumer lending, payday lending, and money transmitter requirements. Changes to the statutes governing consumer small loans and consumer short-term loans amend the definition of “annual percentage rate” (APR) to include “all interest, finance charges, and fees,” as well as the definition of a “consumer short-term loan” to mean a loan with a principal amount or an advance on a credit limit of $1,300 (previously $1,000). The amendments outline certain prohibited actions and also cap the permissible APR on a loan at no more than 50 percent and stipulate that lenders are not permitted to add other charges or payments in connection with these loans. The changes apply to loans originated on or after January 1, 2024. The amendments also make several modifications to provisions relating to payday loans with APRs exceeding 36 percent, including requirements for conducting an ability to repay analysis. These provisions are effective January 1, 2024.
Several new provisions relating to the regulation and licensing of money transmitters are also outlined within the amendments. New definitions and exemptions are provided, as well implementation instructions that provide the state commissioner authority to “enter into agreements or relationships with other government officials or federal and state regulatory agencies and regulatory associations in order to (i) improve efficiencies and reduce regulatory burden by standardizing methods or procedures, and (ii) share resources, records, or related information obtained under this chapter.” The commissioner may also accept licensing, examination, or investigation reports, as well as audit reports, made by other state or federal government agencies. To efficiently minimize regulatory burden, the commissioner is authorized to participate in multistate supervisory processes coordinated through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), the Money Transmitter Regulators Association, and others, for all licensees that hold licenses in the state of Minnesota and other states. Additionally, the commissioner has enforcement, examination, and supervision authority, may adopt implementing regulations, and may recover costs and fees associated with applications, examinations, investigations, and other related actions. The commissioner may also participate in joint examinations or investigations with other states.
With respect to the licensing provisions, the amendments state that a “person is prohibited from engaging in the business of money transmission, or advertising, soliciting, or representing that the person provides money transmission, unless the person is licensed under this chapter” or is a licensee’s authorized delegate or exempt. Licenses are not transferable or assignable. The commissioner may establish relationships or contracts with the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System and Registry and participate in nationwide protocols for licensing cooperation and coordination among state regulators if the protocols are consistent with the outlined provisions. The amendments also outline numerous licensing application and renewal procedures including net worth and surety bond, as well as permissible investment requirements.
The same day, the Nevada governor signed AB 21 to revise certain provisions relating to the licensing and regulation of money transmitters in the state. The amendments generally revise and repeal various statutory provisions to establish a process for governing persons engaged in the business of money transmission that is modeled after the Model Money Transmission Modernization Act approved by the CSBS. Like Minnesota, the commissioner may participate in multistate supervisory processes and information sharing with other state and federal regulators. The commissioner also has expanded examination and enforcement authority over licensees. The Act is effective July 1.
Additionally, the Georgia governor signed HB 55 earlier in May to amend provisions relating to the licensing of money transmitters (and to merge provisions related to licensing of sellers of payment instruments). The Act addresses licensee requirements and prohibited activities, outlines exemptions, and provides that applications pending as of July 1, “for a seller of payment instruments license shall be deemed to be an application for a money transmitter license as of that date.” Notably, should a license be suspended, revoked, surrendered, or expired, the licensee must, “within five business days, provide documentation to the department demonstrating that the licensee has notified all applicable authorized agents whose names are on record with the department of the suspension, revocation, surrender, or expiration of the license.” The Act is also effective July 1.
The Iowa governor recently signed HF 675 to revise certain provisions of the Uniform Money Transmission Modernization Act. The Act is designed to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden and harmonize the licensing and regulation of money transmitters with other states. Among other things, the Act defines terms for when a state money services business (MSB) license is required and adds a process for joint multistate examination and supervision of MSB licensees. The Act also outlines several exemptions, including federally insured depository institutions and certain persons appointed as an agent of a payee who collect and process payments from a payor to the payee for goods or services (other than money transmission itself).
With respect to licensing provisions, the Act states that a person shall not engage in the business of money transmission unless they are licensed. New provisions modify the licensing process, including by requiring that applications be approved 121 days after completion, unless denied or approved earlier by the superintendent. The license will take effect the first business day after expiration of the 120-day period (although the superintendent may for good cause extend the application period). The Act also outlines licensing application renewal procedures, requirements for maintaining licensure, processes for person(s) seeking to acquire control of a licensee or seeking to change key individuals, authorized delegate provisions, net worth and surety bond criteria, permissible investments, and reporting and financial condition requirements, among other criteria. The Act further specifies that a person who engages in the business of money transmission on behalf of a person not licensed under the chapter “provides money transmission to the same extent as if the person were a licensee, and shall be jointly and severally liable with the unlicensed or nonexempt person.” The Act takes effect July 1.
On May 4, the Indiana governor signed SB 458, which repeals current Indiana code governing the licensing and regulation of money transmitters by the Department of Financial Institutions. The bill adds a new chapter codifying the Money Transmission Modernization Act, and outlines provisions to be administered by the Department’s Division of Consumer Credit. Among other things, the Act is designed to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden and ensure states are able to coordinate in all areas of regulation, licensing, and supervision. The Act will also enforce compliance with applicable state and federal laws, standardize activities subject to or exempt from licensing, and modernize safety and soundness requirements to protect customer funds, while also supporting innovation and competitive business practices. The Act defines terms, outlines exemptions, and establishes authorities for the director who many enter into agreements with other government officials or regulatory agencies/associations to improve efficiencies and reduce regulatory burden. The Department is also granted authority to interpret and enforce the chapter, promulgate rules and regulations, and recover administrative and enforcement costs.
With respect to licensing provisions, the director is authorized to report complaints received concerning licensees, as well as significant or recurring violations, to the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System and Registry (NMLS), and may use NMLS for all aspects of licensing, including applications, surety bonds, reporting, background checks, credit checks, fee processing, and examinations. Moreover, the director may also “participate in multistate supervisory processes established between states and coordinated through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the Money Transmitter Regulators Association, and the affiliates and successors of either organization, for all licensees that hold licenses in Indiana and other states,” including entering into agreements to coordinate and share information.
The Act outlines licensing application procedures, as well as licensees’ rights, reporting and recordkeeping requirements, examination processes for outside vendors that provide services normally undertaken by the licensee, criminal penalties, surety bonds, permissible investments, authorized delegate provisions, and explains how the Act applies to licensees issued a license under the current statute, among other things. Additionally, licensees are required to pay all costs reasonably incurred in connection with an examination of the licensee or the licensee’s authorized delegate. The Act’s provisions take effect January 1, 2024.
On April 17, NYDFS announced the adoption of a final regulation establishing how certain licensed virtual currency businesses will be assessed for supervision and examination costs. Under 23 NYCRR Part 102, licensed virtual currency companies holding a Bitlicense will be assessed for their supervisory costs, similar to other licensees regulated by the Department. Last year, NYDFS first proposed a provision in the state budget authorizing the Department to collect supervisory costs from virtual currency businesses licensed pursuant to the Financial Services Law in order to add talent to its virtual currency regulatory team. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) NYDFS explained that the regulation will only apply to licensed virtual currency businesses and that the fees will only cover the costs and expenses associated with the Department’s oversight of a licensee’s virtual currency business activities. A licensee’s total annual assessment fee will be the sum of its supervisory component and its regulatory component, as defined in the regulation, and will be billed five times per fiscal year, once per quarter and a final true-up at the end of the fiscal year. The background to the final regulation notes that to the extent that a person holds multiple licenses to engage in virtual currency business activities, or concurrently acts as a money transmitter, such person will be billed separately for each license, adding that “[p]ersons who engage in virtual currency business activities as a limited purpose trust company or a banking organization will continue to be assessed under 23 NYCRR Part 101.” The final regulation takes effect upon publication of the Notice of Adoption in the New York State Register.
On April 4, the Tennessee governor signed HB 316 / SB 268 to enact the Money Transmission Modernization Act, the money transmitter model law created by industry and state experts. Provisions under the Act amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 45, and are intended to (i) reduce regulatory burden by promoting coordination among the states in areas of regulation, licensing, and supervision; (ii) protect the public from financial crime; (iii) standardize activities that are subject to, or otherwise exempt from, licensure; and (iv) modernize safety and soundness requirements to protect customer funds while supporting innovative and competitive business practices. Under the Act, persons may not engage in the business of money transmission, or advertise, solicit, or hold themselves out as providing money transmission without being licensed. In addition to exempting federal and state agencies and financial institutions organized under the laws of any state or the United States, the Act now exempts “authorized delegates”—persons designated by a licensee to engage in money transmission on behalf of the licensee, and persons that fall within an outlined exemption, including persons appointed as an agent of the payee.
The Act also provides the commissioner of financial institutions with the authority to exercise various powers, including the use of the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry, and the ability to participate in multistate supervisory processes coordinated through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, Money Transmitter Regulator Association, and others for all licensees that hold licenses in Tennessee and other states. While retaining the ability to conduct examinations of licensees, the commissioner may now examine or investigate an authorized delegate. The Act also updates licensee liability requirements related to net worth assets and surety bonds and make various other changes related to audit reports and disclosure permissions. The Act further provides that “[a] person shall not engage in the business of money transmission on behalf of a person not licensed under this chapter or not exempt pursuant to § 45-7-104,” and stipulates that “[a] person that engages in such activity provides money transmission to the same extent as if the person were a licensee, and is jointly and severally liable with the unlicensed or nonexempt person.” The Act takes effect January 1, 2024.
On March 15, the North Dakota governor signed SB 2119, which revises provisions related to money transmitters. The act, among other things, provides that a “person may not engage in the business of money transmission or advertise, solicit, or hold itself out as providing money transmission unless the person is licensed under this chapter.” The provision does not apply to a “person that is an authorized delegate of a person licensed under this chapter acting within the scope of authority conferred by a written contract with the licensee” or to exempt persons provided the person “does not engage in money transmission outside the scope of the exemption.” The act outlines provisions related to consistent state licensure, application for licensure, information requirements for certain individuals, reporting and recordkeeping requirements (including those related to anti-money laundering), and bond requirements. Provisions relating to examinations, investigations, and licensee supervision, as well as unauthorized activities are also discussed. The act also provides a comprehensive list of exemptions.
The act is effective August 1. For current licensees, the provisions take effect upon license renewal but no later than December 31.