(TRENTON) – The full Assembly on Thursday approved a bill (A-2891) known as the Digital Asset and Blockchain Technology Act to regulate the growing cryptocurrency industry in New Jersey, with the goal to spur innovation and create a competitive economy. The vote tally was 73-0.
The measure aims to provide transparency, consumer protections and a licensing structure for both operators and consumers engaging in virtual currency transactions in New Jersey. The bill is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Yvonne Lopez, Andrew Zwicker and Joe Danielsen.
“While many people see and hear about Bitcoin, few know how the virtual currency industry works. Many people have invested large sums of money without knowing the cryptocurrency market can be volatile and can subsequently lead to irreparable financial harm,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “We must take steps to protect consumers looking to invest in cryptocurrency, while also allowing the sector to continue to develop and expand in New Jersey.”
Under the bill, digital asset businesses must be licensed by the Department of Banking and Insurance in order to operate in New Jersey or be licensed in another state in which New Jersey has a reciprocity agreement. In the application process, a cryptocurrency business would be required to disclose its legal name and any fictitious or trade name the applicant uses to conduct business. It also must provide a list of any license revocation or suspension taken against the applicant in another state, federal or state investigations and litigation involving the business, among other information.
“The value of Bitcoin goes up and down; it’s been as high as $20,000 and as low as $16,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “With this in mind, it’s important that we instill protections for consumers and ensure the Department of Banking and Insurance has the tools it needs to take action if fraudulent activity ever occurs.”
New York State recently promulgated capital expenditure requirements for the virtual currency sector that proved difficult for small digital asset businesses to meet. As a result, many have chosen to find a home in New Jersey.
“If we want to keep our economy innovative and competitive, we must welcome emerging industries to do business here in New Jersey. It’s also important that we establish fair and reasonable requirements for this new sector that will protect businesses and consumers alike,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset). “With this legislation, consumers will be better-informed of the risks involved when investing in virtual currency.”
Additionally, the bill requires cryptocurrency businesses to disclose the terms and conditions of a consumer’s account at the time the consumer contracts for a service. A disclosure shall provide a schedule of fees and charges, whether the consumer’s account is protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Cooperation, and information detailing that an investment in digital assists is volatile and subject to market losses, among other requirements.
The bill now goes to the Senate for further review.