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Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris Releases Virtual Currency Guidance for Banking Organizations

Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris Releases Virtual Currency Guidance for Banking Organizations

Guidance Reiterates Department’s Expectation to Review Virtual Currency-Related Activities for Prior Approval and Outlines Criteria by Which Proposals Will Be Evaluated

Today, New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris released Guidance to banking organizations that wish to engage in virtual currency-related activities. The Guidance is applicable to all New York regulated banking organizations, as well as branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations licensed by the Department (“Covered Institutions”).

Covered Institutions are reminded of the current requirement to seek prior approval before commencing virtual currency-related activity, including where any portion of those activities will be conducted by a third party. The Guidance outlines six broad categories of information that DFS will consider in assessing a Covered Institution’s proposal: business plan; risk management; corporate governance and oversight; consumer protection; financials; and legal and regulatory analysis. The Guidance also includes a supplemental checklist of initial documents and information that a Covered Institution should provide for DFS to consider in its assessment.

“It is critical that regulators communicate in a timely, transparent manner about the evolution of our regulatory approach,” said Superintendent Harris. “Today’s Guidance is critical to ensuring that consumers’ hard-earned money is protected, that New York regulated banking organizations remain resilient and competitive, and that the expectations are clear for those that wish to submit proposals for virtual currency-related activity.”

Institutions already engaging in virtual currency-related activities must immediately notify its point of contact at the Department, if it has not already done so. The Department will seek further information or clarification and impose supervisory requirements, as needed.

To develop the Guidance, DFS conducted a robust analysis of the existing regulatory landscape and market trends, and engaged with consumer advocates, other state and federal regulators, industry, and academics.

The Guidance is final; however, DFS looks forward to continuing to engage with key stakeholders on these important issues. As such, stakeholders are invited to provide comments on this Guidance to [email protected], which the Department will take into account as it continues to supplement and refine the supervisory framework applicable to Covered Institutions.

Read a copy of the Prior Approval for Covered Institutions' Virtual Currency-Related Activity (PDF) guidance.

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