New BitLicense and Public Comment Period Coming

December 18, 2014 22:12 UTC

The new BitLicense will open for a 30-day public comment period in just a few days. In a speech to the Bipartisan Policy Council, a Washington D.C. think tank, New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Superintendent Ben Lawsky told the world about the new BitLicense’s impending release date as well as several planned changes.

Also read: NYDFS’s Ben Lawsky Reveals Plan for Transitional BitLicense at #Money2020

Changes in the new BitLicense

Notably, a new BitLicense is not required for consumers or merchants seeking to transact in Bitcoin; furthermore, Bitcoin-related software developers, miners, and also those who have loyalty point or reward schemes do not need a BitLicense. Lawsky has previously hinted at some of the planned changes for the new BitLicense since the closing of the public comment period over a month ago. Speaking at Money2020, Lawsky first informed Bitcoin startups seeking to operate in New York that they would be able to apply for a “transitional BitLicense” which would have lowered compliance requirements during the first two years.

In another notable change that was just announced today, BitLicense holders will no longer have to collect addresses or transaction information from every single party in any given transaction. Additionally, the information that is held only needs to be held for seven years instead of ten. Lastly, BitLicense holders will be able to count their digital currency towards their capital requirements.

Banks Run the Risk of Facing the “Blockbuster Video” problem

Speaking at the event, Lawsky said:

“Virtual currency could eventually cause some amount of self-reflection in the legacy financial system, If banks continue to torpedo even modest updates to the payment system, they ultimately do run at least some risk of facing the Blockbuster Video problem… At a certain point, enough is enough – and four decades of slow-to-non-existent progress in the bank payments system seems like fair warning.”

Lawsky plans to leave the NYDFS in 2015, it is still unclear where he plans to take his unique set of skills afterwards.

Public Comments Made a Difference

It is clear from the NYDFS’s handling of things that the initial (extended) comment period was crucial in changing Lawsky and his departments’ mind about several aspects of the BitLicense. Public comments came in from concerned individuals as well as companies with a vested interest in the passing of the new BitLicense regulatory framework. Amazon, Walmart, and Western Union were among the big names to submit comments to the NYDFS. Those who feel that the new BitLicense hasn’t changed enough, or that it is a classic instance of a sledgehammer being switched for a slightly smaller hammer, will be able to voice their opinions during the new BitLicense comment period opening soon.

Images from Shutterstock.

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Caleb is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he studied Economics, East Asian Studies, and Mathematics. He is currently pursuing his MSc in Digital Currency at the University of Nicosia.

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