Minnesota Cryptocurrency Laws
2018 Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 53B. Money Transmitters “Minnesota Money Transmitters Act” 53B.01
“Money Transmitter” Definition
Money transmission. “Money transmission” means selling or issuing payment instruments or engaging in the business of receiving money for transmission or transmitting money within the United States or to locations abroad by any and all means, including but not limited to payment instrument, wire, facsimile, or electronic transfer.
Payment instrument. “Payment instrument” means any electronic or written check, draft, money order, travelers 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 does not include any credit card voucher, letter of credit, or instrument that is redeemable by the issuer in goods or services.
Authorized delegates of a licensee or of an exempt entity, acting within the scope of authority conferred by a written contract as described in section 53B.20, are not required to obtain a license under this chapter. This chapter does not apply to:
(1) the United States or any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States;
(2) the United States Postal Service;
(3) the state or any political subdivision of the state;
(4) banks, credit unions, savings associations, savings banks, mutual banks organized under the laws of any state or the United States, or bank holding companies which have a banking subsidiary located in Minnesota and whose debt securities have an investment grade rating by a national rating agency, provided that if they issue or sell payment instruments through authorized delegates who are not banks, bank holding companies, credit unions, savings associations, savings banks, or mutual banks, those authorized delegates must comply with all requirements imposed upon authorized delegates under this chapter; and
(5) the provision of 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 of the United States, or any state or any political subdivision of the state.
$4,000 Application Fee
Bond and Insurance Requirements
Requirement. Each application must be accompanied by a surety bond, irrevocable letter of credit, or other similar security device acceptable to the commissioner in the amount of $25,000. If the applicant proposes to engage in business under this chapter at more than three locations, but less than seven locations, through authorized delegates or otherwise, then the amount of the security device must be increased to $50,000. If the applicant proposes to engage in business under this chapter at more than six locations, through authorized delegates or otherwise, then the amount of the security device must be increased by $50,000 for each location over six, up to a maximum of $250,000. The security device must be in a form satisfactory to the commissioner and must run to the state for the benefit of any claimants against the licensee to secure the faithful performance of the obligations of the licensee with respect to the receipt, handling, transmission, and payment of money in connection with the sale and issuance of payment instruments or transmission of money. In the case of a bond, the aggregate liability of the surety in no event shall exceed the principal sum of the bond. Claimants against the licensee may themselves bring suit directly on the security device or the commissioner may bring suit on behalf of these claimants, either in one action or in successive actions.
Bond Alternatives and Additional Insurance Requirements
Acceptable alternatives. In lieu of a security device under subdivision 1 or of any portion of the principal of the security device, as required by subdivision 1, the licensee may deposit with the commissioner, or with banks in this state that the licensee designates and the commissioner approves, cash, interest-bearing stocks and bonds, notes, debentures, or other obligations of the United States or any agency or instrumentality of the United States, or guaranteed by the United States, or of this state, or of a city, county, town, village, school district, or instrumentality of this state, or guaranteed by this state, to an aggregate amount, based upon principal amount or market value, whichever is lower, of not less than the amount of the security device or portion of the security device. The securities or cash must be deposited and held to secure the same obligations as would the security device. The depositor shall receive all interest and dividends. The depositor may, with the approval of the commissioner, substitute other securities for those deposited, and is required to do so on written order of the commissioner made for good cause shown.
Net worth. Each licensee engaging in money transmission in three or fewer locations in the state, either directly or through authorized delegates, must have a net worth of at least $25,000. Each licensee engaging in money transmission at more than three locations in the state, but fewer than seven locations, either directly or through authorized delegates, must have a net worth of at least $50,000. Each licensee engaging in money transmission at more than six locations in the state, either directly or through authorized delegates, shall have a net worth of $100,000 and an additional net worth of $50,000 for each location or authorized delegate located in the state in excess of seven, to a maximum of $500,000. Net worth shall be calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
(a) Each licensee under this chapter must at all times possess permissible investments having an aggregate market value, calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, of not less than the aggregate face amount of all outstanding payment instruments sold by the licensee or reported as sold by an authorized delegate in the United States. This requirement may be waived by the commissioner if the dollar volume of a licensee’s outstanding payment instruments does not exceed the bond or other security devices posted by the licensee under section 53B.08.
(b) Permissible investments, even if commingled with other assets of the licensee, are considered to be held in trust for the benefit of the purchasers and holders of the licensee’s outstanding payment instruments in the event of the bankruptcy of the licensee.
State Comments or Statements
The state does not define money and the term payment instrument is overly broad and could encompass virtual currencies. Until such time as the state takes a stance, we will have to assume that a license is required.
The Minnesota Commerce Department has made coordinate efforts to crackdown on fraudulent initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency scams.
Minessota introduced a bill that would define virtual currency as a medium of exchange. The bill is still pending. H.B. 1608, 1st Reg. Sess., 90th Leg. Sess. (Minn. 2017