A new bill recently passed in the New Hampshire House of Representatives would reverse regulations created by a law that was enacted in 2015. The regulations enacted in 2015 were the result of ironically numbered House Bill 666, a piece of legislation that was requested by the New Hampshire Banking Department. House Bill 666 regulated certain cryptocurrency businesses as money transmitters under state law. The regulations enacted in 2015 caused at least one Bitcoin-related company to stop doing business in New Hampshire. Cryptocurrency activists in the Live Free or Die state were caught off guard by the regulations, and went to their state legislators to push for a repeal of the law. The new legislation, House Bill 436, passed the New Hampshire House of Representatives on March 8th.
House Bill 436 would add “Persons who engage in the business of selling or issuing payment instruments or stored value solely in the form of convertible virtual currency; or receive convertible virtual currency for transmission to another location,” to the list of people and organizations that are exempted from the requirement to obtain a money transmitter license from the New Hampshire Baking Department. Under current law, businesses, like Coinbase, which convert cryptocurrencies into cash are required to get a money transmitter license. The current law regulates cryptocurrency exchanges the same way businesses like Western Union and MoneyGram are regulated. If enacted, House Bill 436 would be a strong protection for cryptocurrency businesses, deregulating them and ending the requirement to obtain a money transmitter license. New Hampshire would essentially be doing the exact opposite of what New York has decided to do, with their bitlicense regulations. This would be great news for New Hampshire, a state which some New Hampshire activists claim has the greatest number of Bitcoin enthusiasts per capita.
The original language of House Bill 436 did not go nearly as far to protect cryptocurrency businesses, and activists went back to their representatives and demanded the bill be changed. The bill was introduced by Republican New Hampshire State Representative Barbara Biggie and co-sponsored by fellow New Hampshire Republican Representative Keith Ammon. Representative Biggie decided to amend the bill and after listening to her constituents advice on changing the bill. The amendment changed the bill to exempt cryptocurrency businesses from the money transmitter license requirement. Representative Biggie’s amendment to her bill was approved and the amended version of House Bill 436 was passed by the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee. The bill was then passed by the full House of Representatives by a vote of 185-170. House Bill 436 is currently being considered in the New Hampshire Senate.