Hawaii Cryptocurrency Laws

Relevant Statute

Hawaii Revised Statutes – Title 26. Trade Regulation and Practice;
489D. Money Transmitters Act

“Money Transmitter” Definition

“Money transmission” means to engage in the business of:
(1) Selling or issuing payment instruments; or
(2) Receiving money or monetary value for transmission to a location within or outside the United States by any and all means, including wire, facsimile, or electronic transfer. Money transmission does not apply to courier services.
489D-4

Additional Definitions

“Monetary value” means a medium of exchange, whether or not redeemable in money. “Payment instrument” means any electronic or written check, draft, money order, traveler’s check, or other electronic or written instrument or order for the transmission or payment of money, sold or issued to one or more persons, whether or not the instrument is negotiable. The term “payment instrument” does not include any credit card voucher, any letter of credit, or any instrument that is redeemable by the issuer in goods or services.
489D-4

Exemptions

(a) This chapter shall not apply to: (1) The United States or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof; (2) The United States Postal Service; (3) The State or any political subdivisions thereof; and (4) The electronic transfer of government benefits for any federal, state, or county governmental agency as defined in Federal Reserve Board Regulation E, by a contractor for, and on behalf of the United States or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, or any state or any political subdivisions thereof. (b) Authorized delegates of a licensee acting within the scope of authority conferred by a written contract under section 489D-21 shall not be required to obtain a license pursuant to this chapter. [L 2006, c 153, pt of §1; am L 2008, c 195, §4] 489D-5

Registration Fees

$5,000 Application Fee
$5,000 Initial License Fee

Bond and Insurance Requirements

(a) Each application for a license shall be accompanied by a surety bond, irrevocable letter of credit, or other similar security device acceptable to the commissioner in the amount of $10,000 for the initial twelve months licensure. Thereafter, each licensee shall maintain a bond in the amount required by subsection (g) unless otherwise required by the commissioner. The commissioner may increase the amount of the bond or security device to a maximum of $500,000 upon the basis of the impaired financial condition of a licensee, as evidenced by a reduction in net worth, financial losses, or other relevant criteria.
489D-7

Bond Alternatives and Additional Insurance Requirements

(c) To meet the requirement of a security device or of any portion of the principal amount thereof, the licensee may deposit with the commissioner, or with such banks in this State as the licensee may designate and the commissioner may approve, cash, interest-bearing stocks and bonds, notes, debentures, or other obligations:
(1) Of the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof;
(2) Guaranteed by the United States;
(3) Of the State, a county, or instrumentality of the State; or
(4) Guaranteed by the State, in an aggregate amount based upon the principal amount or market value, whichever is lower, of not less than the amount of the security device or portion thereof.
(d) The securities or cash deposited pursuant to subsection (c) shall secure the same obligations as would the security device, but the depositor shall:
(1) Be entitled to receive all interest and dividends thereon;
(2) Have the right, with the approval of the commissioner, to substitute other securities for those deposited; and
(3) Be required to substitute other securities for those deposited upon a showing of good cause and written order of the commissioner.
489D-7v

Capital Requirements

Each licensee, at all times, shall have a net worth of not less than $1,000, calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
489D-6

Money Transmission License Required for Crypto Exchange?

yes

State Comments or Statements

Released advisory stating that cryptocurrency transactions require a money transmitter license.

http://cca.hawaii.gov/dfi/news-releases/news-release-state-warns-consumers-on-potential-bitcoin-issues/

State introduced HI SB2853 in January, 2018 to define and include virtual currencies within the Money Transmitter act, which is still pending. https://legiscan.com/HI/bill/SB2853/2018

Also introduced legislation SB 949 which would exclude virtual currency from money transmission.

https://legiscan.com/HI/text/SB949/id/1565354

Hawaii has also discussed adopting a version of the Uniform Law Commission’s Regulation of Virtual Currency Businesses Act, which has stalled.