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DFS Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris Issues New Guidance Regarding Virtual Currency Customer Service Requirements

DFS Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris Issues New Guidance Regarding Virtual Currency Customer Service Requirements

New Complaint Handling and Customer Service Standards Strengthen the Department’s Nation-Leading Consumer Protections for Virtual Currencies

New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris today issued guidance requiring DFS-regulated virtual currency entities to maintain and implement effective policies and procedures to promptly address customer service requests and complaints. The guidance requires VCEs to collect relevant data so that the Department can assess whether they are resolving customer service requests and complaints in a timely and fair manner. 

“Consumers have a right to a transparent and timely process for resolving complaints and answering questions, irrespective of the company or product in question,” said Superintendent Harris. “This guidance outlines clear expectations for a positive customer experience, which benefits both consumers and business.”   

Today’s guidance reflects DFS expectations of VCEs regarding customer service policies and procedures, including channels or mechanisms, response and resolution monitoring, and reporting.  The guidance requires licensees to maintain for Departmental review records of their own policies and procedures, as well as quarterly analysis of requests and complaints they receive.  Through examinations and supervisory monitoring, the Department will assess the application of these policies and procedures as well as their efficacy. 

The Department outlines commonly effective policies and procedures, including:

  • providing customers with both a phone and electronic text mechanism to submit requests and complaints, in addition to any other methods to submit requests and complaints a VCE may have;
  • providing regular updates and estimated resolution timelines to the customer, providing a means for the customer to stay apprised of the status of their request or complaint, and providing an explanation when the outcome of an issue is less than what the customer was seeking;
  • publishing an FAQ or similar communication without requiring an account to log in;
  • tracking requests and complaints, along with feedback on customer satisfaction;
  • reporting a quarterly tabulation of the number of requests and complaints received, broken down by method and request/complaint topic. The tabulation must include the average time from receipt to resolution of the requests and complaints;
  • providing a copy of their customer service and complaint policies and procedures, including provisions that align with the standards described throughout the guidance;
  • specifying the individual or individuals responsible for the customer service and complaint policies and procedures.

Prior to adoption, DFS conducted in-depth research, met with key stakeholders and received constructive feedback which informed the guidance. DFS uses all of its regulatory tools to make data-driven policy decisions and adapt regulatory oversight to the changing risks in the virtual currency market.

This announcement builds upon Superintendent Harris’ VOLT initiative, through which 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. Leveraging the Department’s vast knowledge of the industry, DFS has now issued eight pieces of virtual currency regulatory guidance, protecting consumers, businesses and markets as the industry develops and changes. In addition, under Superintendent Harris, the Department has levied over $177 million in penalties against virtual currency companies and used existing supervisory and enforcement authority to require companies to remediate violations of the law and DFS regulations.

Read the Guidance on Virtual Currency Customer Service Requirements.

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