September 18, 2023
DFS SUPERINTENDENT ADRIENNE A. HARRIS ANNOUNCES UPDATE ON TWO YEAR TRANSFORMATIONAL INITIATIVE TO STRENGTHEN DFS’ NATION-LEADING VIRTUAL CURRENCY OVERSIGHT
Building on Previous First In the Nation Guidance For the Virtual Currency Industry, DFS Issues Proposed Updated Expectations On the Adoption or Listing of Virtual Currencies
New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris today issued an update on an ongoing initiative to strengthen DFS oversight of virtual currencies, highlighting milestone achievements that have transformed agency operations and shaped virtual currency policy across the nation and around the world. Designated as the VOLT initiative this ongoing project has focused on enhancing DFS’s Vision, Operations, Leadership, and Technology in order to further cement DFS’s role as the leading regulator of virtual currency in the nation. In furtherance of this initiative, Superintendent Harris published proposed guidance which adopts enhanced criteria for coin-listing and delisting procedures, as well as updated guidance on the framework for designating coins or tokens to the DFS greenlist.
“Since joining DFS, I have made it a priority to ensure the Department’s regulatory and operational capabilities keep pace with industry developments to protect consumers and markets,” said Superintendent Harris. “In less than two years, we’ve built our team to over sixty experienced professionals, created and enhanced consumer and industry safeguards, and engaged with policymakers around the world – including with the U.S. Congress to help ensure there is a federal prudential regulator to supervise the industry.”
Through Superintendent Harris’ VOLT initiative, the Department has added more than 60 experts to oversee licensing and strengthen supervision, enhanced existing and established new policies and procedures, and enacted new assessment authority to support the continued growth of the virtual currency unit. To address emerging issues, DFS issued eight pieces of innovative industry regulatory guidance, including first-in-the-nation regulatory guidance setting foundational criteria for USD-backed stablecoins issued by DFS-regulated entities, guidance to better protect customers in the event of a virtual currency insolvency or similar proceeding, and guidance for establishing the use of blockchain analytics tools as a best practice for virtual currency entities to prevent and manage financial risks and suspicious activities. Under Superintendent Harris, DFS brought its first penalties against cryptocurrency companies including Robinhood Crypto and Coinbase, Inc. In the last two years, the Department has levied over $132 million in penalties against virtual currency companies and used existing supervisory and enforcement authority to require companies to remediate bad behavior.
Today’s proposed guidance for Coin-listing and guidance on the General Framework for Greenlisted Coins enhances the original framework issued by the Department in 2020 by clarifying DFS’ expectations with respect to the coin-listing and delisting policies of DFS-regulated entities. The enhancements have been developed through ongoing supervision, and the guidance aligns best practices across all entities. The guidance published today:
heightens risk assessment standards for coin-listing policies and tailors enhanced requirements for retail consumer-facing businesses;
requires licensees to develop and submit to DFS for approval a coin-delisting policy that is compliant with this proposed guidance; and
updates the DFS Greenlist, the list of coins and tokens approved for all licensees to list or custody, and Greenlist process.
Given the speed with which the virtual currency industry changes, DFS is using all of its regulatory tools to keep pace with industry, make data-driven policy decisions, and proactively respond to the changes and risk in the virtual currency market. With today’s publication, the proposed guidance is open for public feedback until October 20, 2023.